Firefighters issue reminder to maintain chimneys and log burners

Firefighters have issued a timely reminder for residents to make sure their chimneys and log burners are well-maintained as we approach the colder months.

Concerns around an increase in people using their fireplaces to heat homes instead of central heating as a result of the energy crisis has also prompted Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to call on the public to get their chimney swept during Chimney Fire Safety Week (29 August – 4 September).

Chimney Fire Safety Week aims to reduce instances of chimney fires through raising awareness of safe chimney use, including the importance of ensuring that chimneys are swept regularly, are clean and appropriate quality fuel is used.

Over the last few years, chimney fires have been slowly decreasing, with figures showing that over 40 per cent of chimney fires in England take place over the three months of January to March.

However, this winter more people are likely to turn to using log burners and open fires to stay warm, with the cost of both electricity and gas expected to continue to climb.

There is also an increased risk to people who are living alone, as they are nearly four times more likely to die to be seriously injured in a fire.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Glynn Luznyj said: “It may seem strange to be encouraging people to get their chimneys swept at this time of year, however the idea is to get a sweep booked in now ahead of needing to use it when temperatures drop.

“Chimney fires can be devastating as well as life threatening, but by having regular inspections and cleaning, these fires can be prevented.

“It is important that people use an approved chimney sweep and The National Association of Chimney Sweeps has a helpful website for finding local and accredited chimney sweeps.

“There are also some other simple safety precautions to take which are ensuring you have working smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm too due to these kinds of fires needing appropriate ventilation.

“It doesn’t take a lot of effort but it could potentially save your life and your family’s life.”

Tips and advice:

Ensure your chimney is swept regularly
Remind your friends and family to get theirs swept

How often:

Chimneys should be swept according to the type of fuel being used
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)

Things to consider:

Keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and maintained
Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
Ensure the fire's extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house
Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks
Avoid slumbering an appliance (unless it’s been tested as safe to do so) – slumber mode is when an appliance is purposely set at a low or minimum output normally for overnight burning to be revived in the morning without the need for relighting
Chimneys that have been lined still require regular sweeping
Use the appropriate fuel for your appliance – some appliances will be suitable for wood only, some are multi-fuel, check your appliance instructions
Never store the fuel next to the appliance
Get a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in accordance with building regulations and test regularly
Ensure you have a working smoke alarm. If your home has more than one floor, at least one alarm should be fitted on each level.

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