Elgas LPG Gas Blog

6 Safety Tips for Bushfires & BBQ Gas Bottles

Find out what to do with your BBQ gas bottle if a bushfire is approaching…

"Give it to Your Neighbour"

man with gas bottle

I live in the Blue Mountains and I once attended an RFS community meeting, as the big Lithgow fire was approaching our area.  
One of my neighbours asked “What should we do with our BBQ gas bottle?” to which the Fire Brigade Captain replied:
“Give it to your neighbour!”
While the ensuing laughter was a relief for a lot of stressed people, the real answer to the question is something that everyone who lives in a potential bushfire area should know. 
The good news is the solution is even simpler than giving it to your neighbour…

Bushfire BBQ Safety Checklist

Inserting a BBQ regulator into a BBQ gas bottle

Here is a quick checklist of what to do if a bushfire approaches:

1. Make sure the BBQ gas bottle is turned off (clockwise) at the valve on top of the bottle

2. Detach the gas bottle from the BBQ

Remember, it's reverse thread so clockwise to remove.

3. Place the gas bottle away from any flammable materials, in a well ventilated area

4. Make certain that  it remains upright at all times

5. Make sure the Pressure Relief Valve is pointed well away from anything combustible

6. Ensure that there are no gas bottles stored indoors or underneath the property

Watch this quick 30 second video on what to do:

Gas Bottles Rarely Explode

First, don’t worry about the gas bottle exploding, as that would be quite unusual, as long as you keep the BBQ gas bottle upright.  
This enables the Pressure Relief Valve to operate correctly.
The Pressure Relief Valve is incorporated into the main gas valve on the bottle, as shown in the accompanying diagram.
It’s actually a valve within a valve. 
If the pressure of the gas inside the bottle increases, as the result of a fire or other heat source, the pressure relief valve releases some of the gas to relieve the pressure. 
No pressure build up means no risk of an explosion.

Aim it Safely

Bushfires and BBQ Gas BottlesHowever, if the pressure does build up, gas will vent through the pressure relief valve.  
If there is an ignition source nearby, the venting gas may ignite, becoming a plume of flame.
The important thing is to make sure that the gas bottle is not near anything flammable and to aim the pressure relief valve safely away from any combustible materials. 
For reference, the Pressure Relief Valve points in the opposite direction from where you screw in your regulator. 
The flame plume will self-extinguish when the pressure is relieved and the pressure relief valve closes itself or when the gas bottle runs out of gas.  
As long as it was safely positioned away from anything that burns, it should not create any additional problems.

What about Home Gas Bottles?

45kg home gas bottlesIf you have 45kg or larger home gas bottles or cylinders, this is what to do before the fire arrives or before evacuating:
1. Turn it off (in clockwise direction) at valve on top of the bottle
2. Leave the bottle or cylinder where it has been installed
3. Leave the bottle or cylinder in an upright position
4. Ensure it is secured to a solid structure and on a solid base to prevent it falling over, with the Pressure Relief Valve vent facing away from building. 
The vent is the protrusion, usually with a dust cover, that is opposite of where the gas line screws into the valve.
5. Remove any combustible materials surrounding the gas bottles

What NOT to do

What NOT to do with an LPG gas cylinder before evacuating:
1. Never place it inside a house or structure, as it can be a hazard to fire fighters
2. Never lay it on its side
3. Never cover it with wet material to it keep cool.  
These materials may dry out and burn, heating the bottle/cylinder

Post-Fire Actions for LPG Installations

These actions have been developed to assist with the safety of LPG installations that have been damaged or potentially damaged by fire, and for the safe return to service of this equipment.

Even if LPG vessels appear to be undamaged, there may be damage to components that is not apparent but can affect safe operation or cause leaks.

If in doubt call your local ELGAS on 131 161.

When you return home:

• Ensure all supply valves and appliances are turned off if safe to do so

• Do not attempt to start any LPG appliance, or turn supply back on, until the installation is checked by a gasfitter.

• If your cylinders are heat or fire damaged ELGAS will replace them without cost

• If cylinders have fallen or are upturned, do not attempt to move them, and contact ELGAS on 131 161

• If you can hear or smell LPG:

  • Turn cylinders off if safe to do so
  • Call ELGAS on 131 161 or a licensed gas fitter
  • Stay well clear of the installation keep any sources of ignition away.

NOTE: Always follow the directions of Fire Authorities who are in control while the fire event continues.

ELGAS will be able to act and assist only on the direction of Fire Authorities.
 

Please view our LPG Bushfire Safety Video
 

You may also wish to see:

How To Attach and Operate Your BBQ Gas Bottle

BBQ Gas Fire Prevention

BBQ Safety Basics

 

 
 
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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.