Get Sweeping for Chimney Fire Safety Week and help to keep your family safe

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As autumn approaches, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is asking homeowners as part of Chimney Fire Safety Week 2022 (29 August – 4 September) to get their chimneys swept by an approved sweep.

Part of the Government’s Fire Kills campaign and backed by HETAS, the Heating Equipment Testing and Approvals Scheme, Chimney Fire Safety Week aims to reduce chimney fires by raising awareness of safe chimney use, including the need to ensure that chimneys are swept regularly, kept clean and appropriate quality fuel is used.

Efficient sweeping prevents chimney damage, and, in worse cases, household fires.

Sweeping your chimney twice a year and using a quality-assured fuel is the key to prevention. Not only does this remove soot and tar deposits, but also gives sweeps the opportunity to check for any problems with the chimney or liner.

Over the most recent ten-year period, between 1 Jan 2012 and 31 Dec 2021 in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, there were 1,471 chimney fires, although fortunately no fatalities or injuries were involved. These comprised 700 in Herefordshire and 771 in Worcestershire.

This compares with the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2021 in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, which saw 1,524 chimney fires.

Whilst this shows a slight decrease, there is no room for complacency.

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, said:

Sweeping your chimney twice a year and using a quality assured fuel is the key to prevention. Not only does this remove soot and tar deposits, but also gives sweeps the opportunity to check for any problems with the chimney or liner.

“A typical sweep only takes about 90 minutes and doesn’t make a mess. Professional chimney sweeps use modern methods and tools such as power-sweeping, CCTV and vacuums to ensure minimal disturbance for the homeowner. Customers don’t need to move all of their furniture out of the room.

”It’s also vital, as we face rising energy bills, that we aren’t tempted to tackle ‘fuel poverty’ by cutting costs in ways that could impact health or mental welfare, such as reducing heating, hot water, cooking or fridge contents. Extra help is out there, with millions of the most vulnerable households due to receive £1,200 of one-off support in total this year, and all domestic electricity customers receiving a non-repayable Energy Bill Discount worth at least £400 from October. You can find out more from GOV.UK at Help with your energy bills – Help for Households.

“I’d also encourage everyone to keep an eye on elderly or vulnerable relatives and neighbours who may be particularly struggling at the moment.”

Bruce Allen, CEO of HETAS, the non-profit organisation that supports cleaner and safer choices for the use of biomass and other solid fuels, appliances and associated technologies, said:

“Over the last ten years, the number of chimney fires has decreased, but there is still more we can do to take action against the risk of chimney fires. It’s really important that we continue to help people find and use qualified professionals for sweeping and maintaining their appliances and chimneys efficiently and safely.

“To easily find a qualified, registered professional, head over to the new HETAS website where you can use the search function to find a registered business near you.

“Here at HETAS, we believe that by providing homeowners with the information they need about the importance of sweeping and maintenance, we can reduce the risk of chimney fires even further.

“As the weather starts to get colder and escalating energy bills mean more people will be looking to make use of woodburners and stoves, now is a great time to be thinking about getting your chimney swept.”

HWFRS recommend these top tips to keep you and your family safe from chimney fires:

  • Have your chimney swept regularly by a Certified Sweep, depending on what fuel you burn (see below) – before it gets colder months and you start using your fire again
  • Keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well maintained
  • Chimneys that have been lined still require regular sweeping
  • Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks
  • Avoid ‘slumbering’ an appliance – unless it has been tested as safe to do so. (Slumber mode is setting an appliance at a low or minimum output normally for overnight burning, to be revived next day without having to relight it.)
  • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Ensure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
  • Ensure the fire is extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house
  • A fire plan can also ensure your family escape in a fire
  • Have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them weekly
  • Don’t keep this advice to yourself – pass it on! Is there anyone you can help to organise a sweep or test their alarms?

How often should chimneys be swept?

  • Smokeless Fuels – at least once a year
  • Bituminous Coal – at least twice a year
  • Wood – quarterly when in use
  • Oil – once a year
  • Gas – once a year (refer to Gas Safe Register)

Emma added:

People wouldn’t think twice about getting their cars MOT’d, but chimneys often get overlooked. Why not get the job done now before winter arrives and you really need that chimney?

“You can find out more about fire safety at, and you can also contact our Prevention Team on 0800 032 1155 to see if you might qualify for a free Home Fire Safety visit.

“You can also complete a FREE online Home Fire Safety Check now by following the link
on our website.

HETAS registered professional sweeps

For more information on maintaining your chimney and how can help with fire prevention, please visit:, where you can find out more and search for HETAS Registered professionals, or look for #Sweepintime, #Bookasweep and #Chimneyfiresafety on social media channels.