Beware of the smoker accidents

A few weeks back I did something really stupid and thinking back I am surprised it hadn’t happened sooner.
By habit I light my smoker at the back of my car but this time must have slipped up big time. I got the smoker really going well and closed the back of my car and began working in my apiary. I must have pumped a spark into my car and by the time I saw it was burning it was too late to save it. I went through 2 powder fire extinguishers till the fire brigade was on the scene.
i got the car open and when using the extinguishers I was pulling out gear that was burning. I got burning plastic stuck to both hands but still tried to cut down the fire.
When the ambulance arrived I was in a bad way and they had to cut off by bee suit and other clothing. Off to hospital for 2nd and 3rd degree burns on both hands and 1st degree to my face. I am now out of hospital and in for a couple of months to mend and minus a 3 week old car.

Guys, and girls, take a lot of care in lighting and use of smokers and don’t become complacent as I did, obviously. The fire brigade, ambo’s and hospital were brilliant in their care of me but I should have taken a lot more care.
Thanks to those on the forum aware of what had happened and offers of help and good vibes


Hi Peter, thanks for those words of warning. It’s sad that you have to talk from experience. I’m pleased to see that you can use capitals again. I know you’re no stranger to pain. Something you can live without at this stage, I’m sure. Take care, cheers for now.


Glad you are ok Peter, next time do a JSA and nothing can go wrong… :thinking:
Accidents will happen, I have placed a smoker onto something combustible and burnt it, they get hot alright and have potential to start a fire as you have found out.
In my location we can’t use a smoker during summer for this reason which makes inspections awkward at times, normally calm bees can go on the warpath. Used to it now but unnerving still, fortunately not having all the pests, frequent inspections aren’t as necessary.
Fortunately you have heaps of honey to bathe your wounds. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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@Peter48 Shyte… And ouch. Really sorry to hear about the incident and injury Peter. I hope the recovery isn’t too painful and it proceeds without any complications or issues. Recovering from burns isn’t always simple.

Thanks for sharing your experience too. Our discussions here are typically centred on dealing with bee related issues and not the risks with equipment we use and steps we take to facilitate those inspections. It’s a timely reminder too.

You got burnt and weren’t able to extinguish the fire but you were prepared for the risk of fire. I suspect that is not something everyone is prepared for… And fires can escalate quickly so being prepared is important

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Oh man! I hope you have a speedy recovery! Thanks for sharing your story too. Lessons shared can help us all keep alert better. I hope your healing rapidly. Prayers!

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Wow…very sorry to hear this Peter,I’ve started putting my smoker in a steel bucket for safety when in my car and at my bush apiarys.
I hope you recover soon mate and have a better 2019
All the best Brian

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Oh no!!! That’s awful. I hope the pain is manageable!! And a 3 week old car?! A different sort of pain altogether.

I hope you’re feeling better and hope you have a speedy recovery!

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Sorry to hear of your accident @Peter48. :cry: We always light our smokers by the hives, with a hose nearby, but retrospect is a very blunt and unforgiving instrument. Like a lot of Australia, we have a very dry climate, and I often worry about stray sparks.

My brother had very deep 2nd degree burns as a teenager, from throwing petrol onto a sluggish bonfire. The bonfire didn’t stay sluggish… :open_mouth: Boys will be boys! Anyway, I know what it is like to live with the recovery from such burns.

If you had 3rd degree burns, presumably you have had skin grafting too? Very lengthy process. I really like the new mesh skin grafts they seem to do these days. Much more elegant than a flap graft. I wish you a speedy recovery, and a more comfortable new year.


As Ms Pauline Hanson has said, please explain a JSA?

I am fine mate and there is no pain at all, even in my hands. The bandages stay on my right hand for assessing in 2 weeks time.
I pick up my second new car inside a month tomorrow, the car dealer is going to really like me. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:
Cheers and thanks for the concern

Thanks Dawn, and yes, they are talking of an artificial grown skin in 2 weeks, or there abouts.
There is no pain that I can’t block out, just the frustration on being limited on what I can do. Went out to the apiary today just for a look. Really sad to see the car as it is now, she is a total loss but the bees are ok :grin:

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Burns are certainly no fun and can be an ongoing source of pain.:face_with_head_bandage:
Let us all hope you have a speedy recovery.
No jokes from me just yet. :innocent:


Job Safety Analysis.

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There is no pain at all, nothing like getting into bath to soak off the plaster from a broken back so I could race my motor bike in a very important race. That was extreme pain and a little bit stupid.
Each day I go for my hands to be redressed and am seeing a big improvement.
I have arranged for a pair of hands from a lady I set up with two hives, you will be busy enough with your hives but thanks so much for the offer.


I am in no pain at all Wilfred, All of the skin on both hands has gone and a lot of sub-dermal nerve damage.
JSA and bee keeping is like trying to mix oil and water. A lot of our decisions is done instantly and plans are often dis guarded. Best made plans sometimes have to be bypassed and choices made based on only past experience.
This time I made the mistake of trying to save my bee gear in the car, the car was already a gonner. It was as simple as that :confounded:
Thanks for the thoughts, and lack of stirring, I know it was hard on you mate :grin:


That’s a terrible sad story peter- sorry for you- and thankful you’re making the best of it- and warning others to not be so complacent.

Seems like unbelievable bad luck to have all that from just a spark or two? I think I’m going to make an airtight smoker box to keep my smoker in- and take extra care- most smokers aren’t as well designed as they could be- they could use an air control - and a cap on a chain- as well as mesh on the bottoms so they don’t get so hot, and can be controlled better

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That is required in San Diego City Beekeeping Regulations, and I gladly comply with it. I even have a special mat in my car to protect it from the heat. In fact, as soon as I get home, I remove the box from the car too. Yes, I really am paranoid, but then I drive a Tesla… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :sunglasses:

San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 4: Health and Sanitation (3-2012)


( c) The container shall be used for the transportation of the bee smoker at any time that the bee smoker contains any burning or smoldering substance;

( d) The container shall be metal and shall have a top or cover, made of the same material as the container, which shall be securely fastened in the closed position whenever a bee smoker is being transported.

(“Beekeeping — Bee Smokers” added 6–8–1977 by O–12084 N.S.)

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Oh gawd. You and Martha could get together and do burn outs. :upside_down_face::upside_down_face:

Edit: No pun intended… considering the thread.


Peter, many thanks for your words of wisdom over this year and all the very best for a quick recovery .

Hope you have a hive with a viewing window!!

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Although I doubt a JSA would actually be done, a JSA is not a prescriptive step-by-step guide that must be followed blindly once it is done. A JSA is an attempt to assess the risks associated with an activity and put appropriate countermeasures in place OR make changes to the intended method of work to make it safer.

A crude JSA for a hive inspection might involve a rough listing of the steps involved, identifying and assessing the risks associated with each step, and then identifying what can be done to minimise those risks or minimise the consequences of those risks. Similarly, you would also identify the equipment being used, the risks associated with that equipment, and then identify what can be done to minimise those risks or minimise the consequences of those risks.

To assist with risk minimisation the ‘go-to’ standard is typically based around your hierarchy of controls: elimination, substitution, engineering, administration, PPE. Most people generally focus on the last two (admin, PPE) as they are the easiest to implement but they are usually the least effective.

Your incident has highlighted the risks associated with errant sparks and the use of the smoker - even though you were seemingly prepared by having a fire extinguisher or two nearby. However, one risk I suspect many don’t think about is the wearing of polyester clothing when using the smoker (t-shirts, socks, pants etc).

If you were a commercial apiarist and an incident occurred you would have serious issues (with Worksafe) if you hadn’t undertaken a JSA. A JSA also isn’t a “set and forget” document. If you take a pause or something about your conditions change you should always “take 5” and perform a quick reassessment of the activity/activities to ensure no new risks have been introduced/there have been no consequential changes to the risks already identified.

(No, I don’t do a written JSA before inspections…)


On one of the bee keeping courses I did they used old ammunition boxes to store the smokers in.