Reminder after four chimney fires in 24 hours

Sat 27 Dec, 2014

Firefighters have issued a safety reminder after attending four chimney fires in the last 24 hours, and 14 so far in December.

Crews were called to fires in Bourne End, Fulmer Common and Slapton yesterday (Friday 26 December) and Pitstone early this morning. There have also been chimney fires in Beachampton, Buckingham, Great Horwood, Hanslope, Knotty Green (two), Marsworth, Stokenchurch, Taplow and Wingrave this month.

Neil Boustred, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “Now that we are in the colder part of the year, more people are using open fires. In some cases it appears their chimneys have not been swept recently.

“A blocked or defective chimney can cause carbon monoxide poisoning as well as a fire. Make sure your chimney is swept regularly by a certified chimney sweep, 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

The following websites can help you find a certified chimney sweep:

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.

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)