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Chimney Safety

Chimney fire and safety

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

In 2020/21 (April 2020 to March 2021) Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service attended 39 chimney fires.

Between April 2016 and March 2021 (a five-year period) our crews have attended 308 chimney fires across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

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 – nacs.org.uk
  • Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps – guildofmasterchimneysweeps.co.uk
  • Institute of Chimney Sweeps – instituteofchimneysweeps.com
  • Heating Equipment Testing and Approvals Scheme – hetas.co.uk

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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