An Oxfordshire firefighter encourages safety in the kitchen after seeing a "devastating" fire in the kitchen at home in a campaign launched today (Thursday, November 8).

Kidlington Fire Station watch manager Ellis Bicknell promotes the two-week "Cook Safe" campaign, which will take place across the country over the next fourteen days.

Kidlington Fire Station Surveillance Manager Ellis Bicknell. Photo: Oxfordshire County Council

Kidlington Fire Station Surveillance Manager Ellis Bicknell. Photo: Oxfordshire County Council

The campaign will remind homeowners of the devastating effects of kitchen fires – material and human damage can be life-long and life-changing.

Ellis said, "Having recently visited a heavy house fire, I know from experience that no one wants to accidentally light the kitchen. The consequences are terrible.

"As I approached the kitchen door, there was some smoke; nothing to worry about, I thought.

When I entered the kitchen, I saw flames in and around the stove and jumped to the ceiling. The rear door was open so that the smoke could escape to a large extent.

The damage a cooking fire can do. Photo: Oxfordshire County Council

The damage a cooking fire can do. Photo: Oxfordshire County Council

"The disadvantage: from the outside, more oxygen was sucked into the fire, which increased its ferocity.This was a serious situation.

"We retired immediately and I instructed two of my crew to put on breathing apparatus. It took a few minutes to control the fire using the firing device's high pressure hose reel.

"When the fire ended, we used an overpressure fan to push the remaining smoke through the windows, room by room.

"Walls were blackened throughout the building, not just in the kitchen.

"Once brought to safety, I brought the owner back to the property and discussed how the fire started and how he could prevent it.

"The fire was caused by an accumulation of food and oils that catch light. The owner said, "I wanted to clean that."

"He did not have a battery in his smoke alarm. If that had been the case, it would have given him a much earlier warning to go out and choose 999. Seconds can make the difference in a fire.

"The destruction caused by kitchen fires and house fires can have far-reaching consequences. Damage to the apartment and possible injuries.

"We want everyone to live a safe and healthy life, so be sure to avoid unnecessary accidents while cooking."

Cook fires account for nearly 20 percent of accidental fires in Oxfordshire homes. There are many reasons for kitchen fires, but one of the biggest factors is distraction.

Chris Barber, security officer for the home and community of the Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, explains, "We all know how easy it is to hear the ringing of the phone, the doorbell, children walking around, or one TV program that gets your attention distracted.

"Whatever the reason, any distraction, even temporary, can be catastrophic. This is the message that people should be thinking about during this year's Cook Safe. "

Safety tips from the campaign include turning down the cooker or hobs – or turning them off – when cooking is not monitored, and a timer as a reminder to return and check the progress of the food. Keeping the stove clear of oil and grease also reduces the risk of fire.

Do not boil if you are under the influence of alcohol, as this lowers the concentration. The risk of accidents in the kitchen is greater if a person has been drinking.

In Oxfordshire, there were 70 out of 345 unintentional apartment fires last year.

Chris said, "Home fires can spread quickly and have devastating effects on homeowners.

"Most cooking fires are avoidable. The fire in which Ellis was involved is a good example. A ten-minute cleaning of the stove makes the homeowner now a completely new kitchen!

"We hope that by alerting people to the causes and encouraging them to follow simple and straightforward safety advice, there will be fewer kitchen fires in the coming years."

Further information on fire protection can be found at


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