Shropshire firefighters are urging chip lovers to take care when deep fat frying following an incident in which a couple’s home was severely smoke damaged.
There were 41 kitchen fires involving chip pans and frying in the county in 2008/2009 reduced to just 13 last year after successful fire prevention advice from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
But some people are still refusing to use a thermostatically controlled chip pan despite numerous warnings about the dangers of an old fashioned open fryer, warned Deputy Chief Fire Officer John Redmond.
He joined chip shop owner Simon Savva (correct) at the Big Blue Chippy in Leegomery, Telford, to bring a joint safety message during National Chip Week (21 – 27 February 2007).
In the recent home fire in Telford, a chip pan was left on the cooker hob for two hours when the householders returned to find their home with blackened windows and severely smoke logged leaving the home temporarily uninhabitable.
“Leaving a chip pan unattended for any length of time can have disastrous results as the oil can easily overheat and ignite. A simple switch from the pan to the oven or a temperature controlled deep-fat fryer can help prevent the worst,” said Mr Redmond.
Mr Savva, who is broadcasting fire safety advice on a screen in the public waiting area at his new fish and chip shop in Leegomery, dismissed the rumour that chips tasted better in an old fashioned fryer.
“Clean oil is what is needed to cook the best chips. A thermostatically controlled fryer is the only way to cook good chips at home these days. We use a state of the art filtration system which keeps our chips grease free and perfect,” he said.
Leegomery councillor Keith Austin, a former RAF firefighter, urged residents to ditch the old fashioned fryer.
“It’s hard to imagine that people still use them. It is so easy to get distracted with a phone call or someone at the door and to forget about the fryer.”
If you do choose to deep fat fry your chips, these all-year-round fire safety tips could help reduce the risk:
- Don’t overfill a chip pan with oil – never fill it more than one-third full.
- Be careful that it doesn’t overheat - hot oil can catch fire easily.
- Use a thermostat-controlled deep-fat fryer, which will make sure the fat doesn’t get too hot
- Never throw water on a chip pan fire.
- Don’t cook after drinking alcohol.
- In the event of a fire, have an escape route in place.
- Don’t take risks by tackling a fire. Get out, stay out and call 999.
- Get a smoke alarm and test it weekly.