Safety reminder after fire involving chip pan

Thu 11 Aug, 2016

This carefully-controlled demonstration at a fire station open day shows how quickly a fire in a pan of overheated cooking oil can spread if it comes into contact with water. The pictures were taken at intervals of one second. The firefighter poured the water out of a cup at the end of a long handle.

Firefighters are reminding people to keep an eye on their cooking, and not to tackle fires involving pans of oil, after an incident in Aylesbury this afternoon.

Two crews from Aylesbury and one from Haddenham were called to a second-floor flat in Breedon Drive, Berryfields, shortly before 1pm. 

Watch Commander Andy Maloney said: “The fire started after a chip pan overheated because a mum was briefly distracted by her daughter. It's very easy to be distracted when you have young children, or during the school holidays.

She then threw water over the fire, which only made it worse. She was lucky not to suffer serious burns.

"Very sensibly, she then shut the door and went outside with her daughter after alerting the other occupants.

“Our advice in a situation like this is to get out of your home, shutting doors behind you, call 999 and stay outside."

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel to put out the fire. The woman and daughter were checked over by paramedics.

Andy added: “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 is a safer option.

"If you choose to use a pan, please don’t leave it unattended. If your pan does catch light, don’t throw water over it – get out, stay out and call 999.”

Andy offered the following safety tips:

  • 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.
  • If it does catch fire, don't move the pan, and don't throw water over it - you will only spread the fire, and may injure yourself in the process. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t cook if you are tired, or after drinking alcohol.
  • Don't leave pans on the hob when you're not around. Take them off the heat if you have to leave the kitchen and switch off the hob.
  • Don't use your hob as an extension of your kitchen worktop by placing other items on it when you are not using it for cooking.
  • Angle saucepan handles so they don't stick out from the hob, or over a naked flame, and never leave children alone in the kitchen.
  • When you have finished cooking, make sure you switch off the oven and hob 
  • Get a smoke alarm and test it regularly. If you don't have smoke alarms, ring Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service on 01296 744477 or send an email to