Chimney Fire Warning
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) are urging residents to make sure their chimneys are swept and ready for winter as the weather starts to turn colder.
Warning that chimney fires have the potential to be very serious, Launa Walker, Community Safety Manager at HWFRS, said: "Soot and smoke from the smallest of chimney fires can cause extensive damage to personal property while larger fires can damage the roof, wipe out the first floor or even destroy a home completely.
"Most chimney fires, however, are preventable. Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help eliminate the build-up of soot from coal, wood, oil and gas fired systems, while sweeping will also clear obstructions like bird nests, leaves and debris."
She explained that the Fire Service tend to see a seasonal rise in chimney fires at this time of year but that statistics for September this year were particularly concerning.
She added: "We were called to 14 chimney fires in September this year compared to just 4 in September 2009, and while this may be weather-related to some extent, we are still keen to highlight this trend and encourage people to do all that they can to prevent chimney fires in their own homes."
She urged anyone burning coal, logs, smokeless fuel or oil to act now to help keep their homes safe by making an appointment to have their chimney swept if they have not already done so this winter, and to ensure their smoke alarms are in full working order.
She advised that:
- Chimneys using smokeless fuel, coal or oil, should be swept at least once a year
- A fireguard is placed in front of the fire at all times
- Fires are extinguished before going to bed or leaving the property unattended
- Do not burn paper or rubbish on fires in the grate
- Check for smoke from cracks in the in the chimney breast
- Install a working smoke alarm in the roof space
- Consider fitting a carbon monoxide detector