Take Care when lighting a smoker on a warm dry day with a bit of wind around. Key things I do is as follows - you may add others.
Before you start asses the location , fuels, weather (humidity and wind speed) and conditions where you want to inspect the hives. Is there a lot of fuel around your hives? Long grass all around or nearby? If you said yes, Alarm bells going off now.
1. Light your smoker away from any combustible fuels. So do it on concrete or mineral earth - solid ground, with out the wind blowing around you. This is the most likely time the flame will get away from your smoker into grass. This is what happened to the person in the story below. If its blowing a warm dry northerly and you are in a grassy paddock - try another day 2. Have a nap sac, pump or bucket of water with you just in case. A rake hoe is handy. 3. Use a quality smoker. The aussie smoker has an extra valve and is said to be safer, The is what i use - Beeco Smoker BUT Its not fool proof. I retired my Chinese one a few years back. They work fine but wouldn't use it now in a rural setting in summer. 4. Be alert and always place your lit smoker on hard surfaces - not in long dry grass. The lid of the hive next door is fine. 5. Put out your smoker with care after use - or plug it up. It will stop for the lack of oxygen. I have a special tough air and water tight carry case for my smoker. 6. On a large farm i have a 200 litre tank and pump on a trailer ready to go if there is any risk. 7. Lets state the obvious - No beekeeping on a TFB day. Use sugar water if you must inspect a hive. 8. .......
The setting for this incident was a edge of a paddock , open back yard etc. with a fair bit of fuel around. Even one CFA person admitted that they should have done a fuel reduction burn behind the houses there.