Making a clean sweep for safety
Thu 4 Sep, 2014
Chimney Fire Safety Week (8 to 14 September) provides a timely reminder to make sure your chimney is ready for the winter months ahead.
As part of the national Fire Kills campaign, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is urging householders to ensure their chimneys are safe, and to have them swept by a registered chimney sweep.
Neil Boustred, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “With the colder part of the year looming, people will begin to start using open fires and their chimneys again.
“All chimneys and flue-ways should be cleaned and checked during the summer months to ensure they’re free from debris and in full working order before the heating season. A blocked or defective chimney can cause carbon monoxide poisoning as well as a fire.
“Make sure your chimney is swept regularly, depending upon what fuel you burn, and that you have working smoke alarms in your home and test them once a week.”
Recommended frequencies are:
- Smokeless coal - at least once a year
- Wood - up to four times a year
- Bituminous coal - twice a year
- Oil or gas - once a year
To find a certified chimney sweep, follow the links at the bottom of the page.
Neil's top tips for safer chimneys
- Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
- Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed.
- Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.
- If you have recently opened up or about to start to use a fireplace, make sure it is inspected by a qualified person.
- When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only. Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper.
- Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure that it is sound and that the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.
- Ensure wood burners are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Make sure the appliance receives enough air to allow the fuel to burn properly. Consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted.
Latest statistics show that there are about 7,000 chimney fires a year in England.
There were 126 chimney fires (107 in Buckinghamshire and 19 in Milton Keynes), between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, which is the same as the average of the previous four years.
Chimney fires in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, 2009-2014:
- 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 - 148 (Aylesbury Vale 48, Chiltern 20, Milton Keynes 27, South Bucks 16, Wycombe 37)
- 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011 - 142 (Aylesbury Vale 44, Chiltern 25, Milton Keynes 19, South Bucks 18, Wycombe 36)
- 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 - 109 (Aylesbury Vale 37, Chiltern 14, Milton Keynes 19, South Bucks 10, Wycombe 29)
- 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013 - 106 (Aylesbury Vale 35, Chiltern 16, Milton Keynes 12, South Bucks 13, Wycombe 30)
- 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 - 126 (Aylesbury Vale 44, Chiltern 15, Milton Keynes 19, South Bucks 21, Wycombe 27)