Soldiers and family members watch a dummy burn Wednesday during a barbecue safety demonstration at Hohenfels, Germany.

Soldiers and family members watch a dummy burn Wednesday during a barbecue safety demonstration at Hohenfels, Germany. (Seth Robson / S&S)

HOHENFELS, Germany — When you barbecue this summer, make sure you don’t end up cooking yourself.

That was the message the Hohenfels Fire and Emergency Services staff hammered home to soldiers and civilians last week during a demonstration of what can happen to barbecue cooks who do not obey the rules.

The demonstration involved Gert Fuchs, the base deputy fire chief, spraying gasoline on a barbecue and spilling a little on the front of a dummy cook placed next to the blaze. A split second after Fuchs lit the fire the dummy was engulfed in flames.

Fire inspector Martin Birkhahn told a group of soldiers that barbecue injuries are common among U.S. personnel serving in Germany over summer.

“We have lots of cases where adults and kids get injured. We have about two people [at Hohenfels] every year who set themselves on fire due to wrong starting procedures,” he said.

Firefighters also regularly respond to house fires started by charcoal from barbecues disposed of in trash cans before they are adequately cooled, he said.

Barbecue cooks should use charcoal starter fluid to ignite coals. The starter fluid has a much lower flash point than gas or other accelerants, Birkhahn said.

And people should never pour accelerant onto a fire that is already going because the flames can leap up the stream of liquid and ignite the container, which might explode, he said.

Anyone who catches fire should stop, drop and roll. However, most people who catch fire do not remember to do this, he said.

“If you see someone catch fire, they will often be running around like a chicken. That tends to fan the flames and make it worse,” Birkhahn said.

Fuchs demonstrated the correct procedure for dealing with another person who is on fire. He grabbed the flaming dummy and threw it to the ground, then covered it with a blanket to extinguish the flames.

“We do this because we want all the soldiers and family members in our community to have a safe barbecue,” he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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