As autumn approaches, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is asking householders to ensure their chimney is fire safe.
Part of National Chimney Fire Safety Week, August 29 to September 4, it aims to reduce chimney fires by raising awareness of safe chimney use, including the importance of ensuring that chimneys are swept regularly, kept clean and appropriate quality fuel is used.
Efficient sweeping prevents chimney damage, and, in worse cases, household fires.
Un-swept chimneys can also lead to gases from the fire not being removed properly and can lead to Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
With the number of people using open fires increasing, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service recommend these top tips to keep you safe from chimney fires:
- Have your chimney swept regularly by a Certified Sweep before the colder months set in and you begin to use your fire again.
- Always 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.
- Should a fire start, a working smoke alarm can give you the early warning. Have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them weekly.
- As well as a smoke alarm on each level, each room that has a solid fuel burning appliance should have a working carbon monoxide alarm.
- Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks.
- Don’t store wood to close to fires, radiated heat can cause a fire.
- Ensure the open fire is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house. Never leave a fire unattended.
- Don’t keep this advice to yourself – pass it on. Is there anyone you can help to organise a sweep or test their alarms?
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s Group Manager for Prevention, Angela Opie explains: “Although we are experiencing warmer weather at the moment, the colder winter months will soon be upon us, and more people will begin using open fires and their chimneys again.
“To keep you and your family safe from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning you need to take necessary steps to ensure your chimney is safe to use again.
“So, let’s prepare for the winter months and ensure your chimney is clean and safe to use. Sweeping your chimney up to twice a year and using a quality assured fuel is the key to fire prevention.”
Sweeping frequency recommendations:
- Smokeless coals – at least once a year
- Wood – up to four times a year
- Bituminous coal – twice a year
- Oil – once a year
- Gas – once a year
Angela added: “The latest statistics show that there are approximately 6,000 chimney fires a year in England, but most chimney fires are preventable.
“It’s also really important that all households have working smoke alarms in their home. Open fires could easily become dangerous if not looked after or attended to properly. All households should have both a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm in their home.”
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service also offers free Home Safe and Well Visits, where they provide targeted fire safety advice. To assess the risk in your home, you can use Cumbria FRS’s Online Home Fire Safety Check: www.cumbria.gov.uk/safetyathome