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open fire place

Heating and open fires

Heaters and open fires can come in several different varieties and forms. From industrial, high powered gas heaters to smaller electric fan blowers, no matter what type of heater you have, caution must be exercised.

Open fires and chimneys

Chimney Fire Safety Tips


  • Have the chimney swept professionally before lighting the first fire of winter
  • Don't allow soot or ash to build up 
  • Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure it is sound and that sparks or fumes can't escape through cracks or broken bricks
  • Do not overload the grate or appliance, do not bank fires too high and remember to let them burn down well before you retire to bed
  • Check the hearth, floor and furnishings near the fire for hot sparks or embers before you go to bed
  • Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires and make sure it has the kite mark or conforms to a relevant British / European standard
  • Do not place objects on or over the mantle-piece which may cause you to stand too close to the fire to reach or use them
  • Burn the recommended fuels only - see guidance frequencies below


Regular maintenance requirements of your chimney will depend on the fuel you burn -

  • Smokeless coals - at least once a year
  • Wood - up to four times a year
  • Bituminous coal - twice a year
  • Oil - once a year
  • Gas - once a year


Ensure you fit a smoke alarm that has the kite mark and conforms to British Standard 5446 (Part 1). Test the smoke alarm at least once a month by pressing the test button and know the life span of your battery - mark your calendar as a reminder to replace it.

Portable heating appliances

  • Never sit too close to the heater as you could set light to your clothes or chair, especially if you fall asleep.
  • Heaters should stand where they can't be knocked over, away from beds, furniture and fabrics.
  • Do not put anything on the heater or use it to dry clothes.
  • Make sure all heaters are guarded, particularly if you have children.
  • Never try to move any portable heater while it is alight/switched on - always turn it off and allow it to cool first.

Gas heaters

  • Ensure the heater conforms to British Standards and have it serviced regularly.
  • When changing a gas heater cylinder, try to do this in open air. Otherwise, open windows and doors to increase ventilation. Check the valve on the empty cylinder is closed before disconnecting it and do not turn on the valve of the new cylinder until it is securely connected to the heater.
  • Store spare cylinders upright and outside whenever possible. Never store them in basements, under stairs or in cupboards containing electric meters or equipment.