Great Britain

Number of 'chip pan' fires is on the rise in West Yorkshire

FIRES caused by chip pans and cooking with hot oil are on the rise in West Yorkshire, according to a report by the fire service.

Despite the popularity of chip pans decreasing over the years, around eight per cent of all house fires in the region are caused by chip pans or other hot oil cooking techniques like woks and karahis.

In the past year alone there has been 93 such fires, up from 78 the previous year.

It was the highest number of hot oil fires in a single year since 2015.

West Yorkshire Fire Authority - a group of local Councillors that look at the biggest issues facing West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, asked for a report into chip pan fires due to the high number of blazes caused by the cooking method.

On Friday the Authority’s Community Safety Committee will be given a report on the “Occurrence of Hot Oil Fires” at an online meeting.

The report reveals claims that while the highest numbers of these fires occur in late afternoon, a high number take place late at night or in the early hours of the morning, with many being linked to people cooking while under the influence of alcohol.

Firefighters called to chip pan fire at house in Low Moor

In the 2019/20 financial year - which ended in April, there were 26 hot oil fires in Bradford. This was up from 21 the previous year.

Bradford city centre and Manningham are the two Bradford wards that have seen the most call outs due to hot oil fires in recent years.

The area of West Yorkshire with the most fires is Leeds’ City and Hunslet ward, followed by Middleton Park and Armley.

The report says: “As a service we are noting a slight increase in the number of fires involving cooking with hot oil. This is a county wide trend occurring across a wide cross section of the community.

“We will continue to monitor the occurrence of fire caused by hot oil cooking and if significant trends begin to develop in a specific area or within a specific community group we will tailor our approach accordingly.”

Referring the areas with the highest call outs for such fires, the report adds: “These wards have been identified in our current integrated risk management plan as high and very high risk due to population density and levels of deprivation. As such, our prevention activities are focussed on trying to reduce the risk in these areas.”

Of the 393 chip pan and hot oil fires in West Yorkshire in the past five years, 59 took place between 11pm and 4am - and the Fire Service says cooking while drunk is one of the biggest risk factors for hot oil fires.

The report says: “When we evaluate the occurrence of chip pans by time of day. It is disappointing to see that hot oil fires continue to occur at times traditionally associated with alcohol and cooking.

“We will continue to lead with safety messages around the dangers of drinking alcohol and cooking.”

According to the fire service, the three main causes of hot oil fires are:

• The oil or fat in the pan gets too hot and catches fire

• The oil or melted fat spills onto the cooker either because the pan has been filled too high.

• Being distracted during cooking or leaving the chip pan unattended.

Members will be told that officers provide advice to families on how to cook safely during safe and well visits.

Advice on how to avoid hot oil fires

• Never leave cooking unattended. Take pans off the heat and switch them off if you have to leave the kitchen

• Avoid cooking if you have been drinking alcohol, using recreational drugs or taking medication which makes you drowsy

• Take extra care if you are wearing loose clothing when cooking as it can easily catch fire. Consider wearing an apron

• Keep tea towels, cloths and other flammable materials away from your oven and hob

• Keep your oven, hob, extractor hood and grill clean; a build-up of fat and grease can make a fire spread quickly

• Don’t overfill your chip pan; ensure it’s no more than a third full of oil when in use

• Never throw water on a deep fat fryer or oil pan

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