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Making a clean sweep for safety

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Open fires not only warm up a home, but also create a unique relaxing ambience. With the numbers of people using open fires growing, the Fire Kills campaign has provided some 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

Station Commander, Alan Haley explains: “With the colder, winter months looming, people will begin to start using open fires and their chimneys again. In order to keep you and your family safe from fire, you need to take necessary steps such as ensuring your chimney is swept regularly, depending upon what fuel you burn and I would urge all householders to have a working smoke alarm in their home.”

He explained that the type of fuel you burn will determine how often your chimney needs sweeping, as detailed below:

Smokeless coalsAt least once a year
WoodUp to four times a year
Bituminous coalTwice a year
OilOnce a year
GasOnce a year

Station Commander Haley adds: “Latest statistics show that there are approximately 7,000 chimney fires a year in England, but most chimney fires are preventable”.

“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 both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisonings so it’s very important to employ a professional qualified Chimney Sweep.”

He urged people to give proper consideration to all aspects of safety when installing wood burning stoves and flues. He recommended using an approved engineer from HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approvals Scheme) who will ensure that appliances and flues are installed safely and that the proper insulated flue liners are used and correctly fitted.

For more information on fire safety please visit www.gov.uk/firekills or the Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service website www.hwfire.org.uk