Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service raises awareness of chimney fire safety

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) is reminding local householders to ensure their chimney is fire safe as part of National Chimney Fire Safety Week (Monday 2 to Sunday 8 September 2019).

Chimney Fire Safety Week was first introduced in 2009 and aims to raise awareness of safe chimney and log burner use, including the importance of ensuring that chimneys are swept regularly, are clean and appropriate quality fuel is used to help keep families safe from fire.

Although chimney fires have steadily decreased in most regions over the years, CFRS attended more than 50 chimney fires during the last year (2018/19), with many happening in the early part of the calendar year.

While open fires warm up a home and create a cosy atmosphere, it’s really important they are used safely. As the numbers of people using open fires growing, CFRS has provided some top tips for safer chimneys:

Top tips to ‘enjoy the fire you want’ and ‘not the fire you don’t’

  • Appoint a skilled and technically competent chimney engineer
  • Keep the flue shafts clear and ensure they are well maintained
  • Ensure appliances are mechanically safe and fully functioning and that masonry chimneys are mechanically and structurally sound
  • Never slumber any appliance overnight
  • Always use a fireguard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
  • Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed
  • Buying a property? Ensure you have a full audit trail for both appliances and relining component as well as a fire risk assessment.

Sweeping frequency recommendations:

  • 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

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Head of Community Fire Safety, Group Commander Paul Clarke, explains:

“While we might be enjoying the warm weather now, it won’t be long before the cold weather draws in and people will begin to start using open fires and their chimneys again.

“Of the 55 chimney fires we went to in the last year, many of these could have been prevented.

“In order to keep you and your family safe from fire, and reducing the risk of serious damage to your home, it’s really important that you take the necessary steps to look after your chimney, making sure it’s well maintained and swept regularly.

“It’s also vitally important that you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. They are the single most important thing you need in your home - it will alert you to a fire and give you precious minutes to escape to safety.”

Chimneys should be swept by a competent contractor. To find your nearest local HETAS Approved Chimney Sweep visit: https://www.hetas.co.uk/find-chimney-sweep/

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service also offers free Safe and Well visits for local residents to provide help and guidance in a variety of areas including fire safety, falls prevention and staying well at home. For more information call 01480 444 500 or visit www.cambsfire.gov.uk/safeandwell.

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