Oven & Coooker Fires
Cooker, built in oven and hob fires do get reported but we think less so than other appliances as it is probably more expected and, people expect that the cause is liable to be what was being cooked that was the problem and not the appliance.
Again, as with all the rest, although the headlines will often cite a fire attended by the local fire brigade the severity and cause is often omitted from the reports.
Most oven and cooker fires turn out to be something that was in them or indeed on them that went on fire that was cooking.
It may strike you that we are being not so serious here about any fire risk with coking appliances but that would be an incorrect assumption to make as we are very serious about any risks and wish everyone to stay safe.
With that said, it is extremely important to realise that the vast bulk of incidents will often come down to the use, maintenance or environment being the problem and not the cooking appliance itself.
It is absolutely critical that if you wish to stay safe using a built in oven, built in hob or cooker of any make or kind that it is installed, maintained and used correctly. Not doing so will give rise to fire risk among other safety concerns.
There is one golden rule though, buy a good smoke detector (not one of the cheap ones) fit it, make sure it works and regularly test it. It may well save your life if not your home.
What Can Go On Fire In An Oven
Basically, pretty much nothing apart from what is put into or onto it.
It would be pretty dumb of a manufacturer, making a product that is dealing with high temperatures to use any flammable materials in the construction if it were even remotely possible so, they don’t.
You may well get a few bits and bobs made from plastic but apart from that there is nothing to burn in most any cooker, built in hob, built in oven or even a range cooker.
Certainly you can get the odd component that will “blow” and the report is often that the machine has “gone on fire” but the reality of the failure is normally far removed from that description. Sure it may well go bang, you may even get a flash or a puff of smoke but, other than that the chances of an actual full on fire are virtually zero.
What Burns In A Built In Oven Or Cooker
Pretty much nothing apart from what people put in it or, more often, do not clean out of it.
The single most common “fire” you will see in an oven especially is a grill pan fire from fat or grease igniting under the grill. Or, things left in the grill far too long and the food or fat in that ignites.
Often where this is sever you will find, on inspection, that the entire cavity has a patina of grease on it that has ignited due to the high heat generated in the small cavity.
Even fat and grease on the top above the grill element can ignite then quickly spread.
In an oven, especially cooking at high temperatures, grease and fat can become aerosolised during the cooking process, just like steam and in fact carried with that into the oven cavity. Give it enough heat or a flash and it can ignite.
On occasion things in an oven can overflow or boil over, drip down onto the base and ignite as well so, be careful with how much you fill up oven trays, baking trays and suchlike.
Most times these are minor incidents but, if the oven or cooker is heavily coated in grease or has something else in it that can catch light then it can be extremely serious.
In all cases however the cause will be what is in the oven or cooker, the appliance cannot set a fire.
The hard and fast rule being, keep it clean!
It has been mooted that a drunken bacon sandwich late at night is a major cause of grill fires, we’re just saying! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For built in hobs the primary cause is spillage either onto the hob top or into it as liquids can ingress and ignore inside the hob itself.
Dealing With A Fire
As with all electrical appliances do not throw water on it if you see a fire!
This is extremely dangerous as you risk electrocution but also you can actually make it worse, just as with old chip pan fires and, like those, the advice is largely the same.
Turn the appliance off!
Get the grill pan out if that’s the cause and throw a damp towel over it, this starves the fire of oxygen and it will safely be put out.
Minor fire or things burning out an oven you can deal with in the same way.
If you can’t lift out what’s on fire, close the door and hope that the oxygen burns out and the the fire extinguishes itself. Do not open windows or you may create a draft or airflow that will feed the fire.
If it doesn’t, call the fire brigade and get out of the house.
If it does go out, then open the windows to help clear the smoke.
Carefully open the oven door and inspect the damage.
Allow the smoke to clear and the oven to cool down completely as safety thermostats may well have operated cutting power to the oven.
If it looks okay, slowly bring it back up to temperature in stages checking for excessive smoke etc as you go.
If in any doubt, get it checked by an appliance repairer.
Let us be clear in our interpretation of “unattended use”. By this we mean that there is either nobody in the home or used when in bed.
We do not recommend unattended use and we never will despite the fact that many ovens and cookers have delay timers as we do not think that they should be used for safety reasons.
With any cooking product we would say that unattended use is simply not a thing you want to be doing. It is far too dangerous.
The short answer is that unattended use is a really bad idea in our opinion and, at least if someone is around and the worst happens, you have a chance to do something about it and/or limit the damage.
Common Sense Safety
Of course by now you will have read our fire safety tips that apply to all appliances haven’t you? If not, jump over to that article here and read that as well as this one if you have any concerns.
Most fire safety is simple common sense though coupled with proper installation and maintenance when it comes to cooking appliances.
Do put electrical cookers, hobs and ovens on a proper supply with a good socket and/or lead. Make sure the circuit is protected by an RCD or suchlike. Don’t use it in damp conditions and so on. It’s almost all just straightforward common sense stuff.
Ensure that the venting is correct and clear and the room suitable.
Again, like other appliances do not install cookers or other cooking appliances outdoors or in unheated areas such as garages, sheds and so forth as there is a high risk of dampness and this will affect the machine, it’s performance and can be a major safety risk, including a potential shock and fire risk.
Cookers, ovens or hobs are not designed for use in other areas subject to or can be subject to high levels of damp, like very cold or damp kitchens and there can be risks in such environments.
This is rarely an issue but worthy of mention.
If you do intend to cook outdoors, use a machine rated for that or stick with a barbecue.
Fire Safety Recalls
There are specific issues but they tend to arise from safety recalls as manufacturers, most probably in a bid to avoid getting sued, will issue safety notifications if there is an issue and, we publish them then leave them up for a long time in order to try to make people aware.
If you do have a cooking product that is subject to a notification then get it registered and sorted as quickly as you can.
In our experience these tend to be related to a single component, often a batch from a supplier that has a specific issue and given the low likelihood of any danger these are normally more the manufacturers covering themselves than much anything else.
Recalls on large cooking products are very rare though.
Stay Safe With Your Cooking Products
As with all the fire safety articles most of this will be, to most rational and reasonable people just plain common sense.
but it never ceases to surprise us that there are as many people that ignore one or a number of the most basic points of safety when it comes to ovens, hobs, cookers and other appliances.
Following these simple points and ensuring that you use your appliance correctly will almost guarantee that you will never have any issues or encounter a fire.
Ignore these safety points and it is at your own risk.