The Co-op Group is withdrawing instant barbecues from sale in its stores situated in or within a one-mile radius of all UK National Parks, in a move designed to help prevent devastating wildfires.
The convenience retailer says it has made the announcement to help consumers support local bans imposed by the parks and other landowners.
This announcement, which affects 130 stores, comes as part of Co-op’s campaign, launched with the support of the National Fire Chiefs Council and Greater Manchester Fire Service called ‘Put Me Out’, to promote safer use of instant barbecues this summer. The ‘Put Me Out’ safety drive features hard-hitting on-pack messaging to remind customers of the need to extinguish and dispose of the devices properly, with instructions illustrating the fact that water should be used to safely put them out.
Buying director Adele Balmforth said: “While the majority of consumers use, extinguish, and dispose of instant barbecues safely, and we continue to sell many of them from our stores across the UK, we respect that local decisions to protect the parkland have to be made. Where we have stores in, and within a one-mile radius, of a National Park we have removed instant BBQs from sale to help protect the landscape of the communities in which we serve.”
Messaging by the Group also reinforces rules around instant barbecues only being used in authorised outdoor environments and not in areas that have a public space protection order against them.
The move follows concerns shared by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) over the number of instant barbecue related fires, both in outdoor spaces and in the home when used on balconies or too close to garden fences and trees. NFCC is not calling for a ban of instant barbecues as it could encourage people to use makeshift ones, which can be unpredictable but wants people to be able to enjoy barbecues and urges everyone to use them responsibly.
Of particular concern to fire prevention authorities are the number of outdoor fires sometimes caused by an instant device, which can lead to wildfires and large-scale protracted incidents.
Paul Hedley, National Fire Chiefs Council lead for wildfires, said: “We support Co-op’s move – adding clear warnings along with simple messaging on how to dispose of these barbecues is an effective way to prevent fires. Most people manage to enjoy instant barbecues with no issues but the worrying upward trend in wildfires caused by these devices, cannot be ignored and action has to be taken.”