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Chimney Safety

When the weather becomes colder, those with open fires are more likely to use them. 

Chimney fire and safety

Data sourced from our incident recording system covering the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 shows that:

  • During 2021/22 (April 2021 to March 2022) our Service attended 47 chimney fires – that’s an increase of 20 per cent on those recorded the previous year.
  • Between April 2017 and March 2022 (a five-year period) our crews have attended 266 chimney fires across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes –  14 per cent down on the previous five-year period (2016/17 to 2020/21).

A blocked or defective chimney can cause carbon monoxide poisoning as well as a fire, so regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues can help to identify and eliminate issues before they become a problem.

Recommended chimney sweeping 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

  • Consider fitting a carbon monoxide alarm
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms on each level of your home and test them every month
  • Consider requesting a Fire and Wellness Visit to review fire precautions within your home and receive additional advice and guidance

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

  • National Association of Chimney Sweeps –
  • Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps –
  • Institute of Chimney Sweeps –
  • Heating Equipment Testing and Approvals Scheme –

What NOT To Do

Burning paper
  • Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper

What TO Do

  • Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks and hot embers
  • Ensure embers are put out before you go to bed
  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and maintained
  • If you have recently opened a fireplace make sure it is inspected by a qualified person
  • When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only
  • Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space
  • Ensure the brickwork on your chimney 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
  • Make sure your chimney is swept regularly by a certified chimney sweep. The recommended frequencies depend upon the fuel you burn, and we have included a guide below, but if you have any concerns or are unsure your Chimney Sweep will be able to advise you

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