The Australian BBQ – a beloved summertime tradition that has been ingrained in our very culture. Over the years, it has evolved from being a mere cooking method to a catalyst for bringing people together. It’s where stories are shared, laughter resonates, and the joy of good food is savoured. But, as with all things, there is a time and a place, and the classic Aussie BBQ has become a popular point of contention in many strata communities, particularly regarding the use of portable barbecues on balconies.
If you’re planning on enjoying a BBQ this summer, here’s what you need to know before you fire up that grill.
Why are portable barbecues being restricted in strata buildings?
Portable barbecues have the potential to become serious fire hazards, especially when fitted with LPG bottles and used alongside other combustible materials. For most strata schemes, fire safety is a major focus, and any actions they can take to limit potential risks are usually welcomed by the Owners Committee.
In addition to being a fire hazard, the smoke generated by your barbecue can also impact individuals with respiratory problems or a heightened sensitivity to smoke. During the summer, people are more likely to open their balcony doors and windows to cool their homes and avoid overusing their air conditioning units. The last thing any resident wants is a face full of smoke when they step out onto their balcony.
As a result of the risks to fire safety and air quality, many strata schemes have implemented by-laws to regulate and in some cases, restrict the use of portable barbecues.
How do I know if I’m allowed to use a portable barbecue on my balcony?
If you are unsure whether you are permitted to use a barbecue on your balcony, checking your by-laws is always a good place to start. Many strata schemes will already have specific regulations regarding the use of barbecues and smoke may be in place, especially where combustible cladding is a concern. If you are a tenant, you should also check your lease agreement.
If there is no specific mention of barbecues included in your by-laws, be sure to read up on the latest updates and amendments to strata legislation for rules and regulations around smoke drift, not just from barbecues but also from smoking. It may also be a good opportunity to raise the matter with your Strata Committee to explore the possibility of implementing a by-law for safe use of barbecues to help mitigate potential hazards and smoke-related issues in future.
Ensuring the safe use of barbecues
If you want to permit the use of portable barbecues on balconies, your top priority should be implementing adequate fire safety protocols, such as requiring an accessible fire extinguisher, limiting the number of gas cylinders that can be kept on one balcony, or ensuring that barbecues are placed well away from timber walls, privacy screens, windows, outdoor furniture, or any other combustible materials.
Speak to your strata insurance provider to make sure the protocols you put in place meet the specific risk profile of your building. It is important to note that the use of barbecues may also affect your insurance policy, and your insurer may adjust your premiums to cover the increased risk of fire.
A great alternative to allowing the use of barbecues on balconies is to install a public-use barbecue on common property. It can enhance outdoor areas and encourage community interaction. Though not without its own risks, it poses a significantly less threat to fire safety and air quality than dozens of portable barbecues and gas cylinders scattered across the building. If done right, it can become the centrepiece of a buzzing communal space.