Fire Service Urges Chimney Care

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service are issuing advice for those with open fires and chimneys after five fires in chimneys on Saturday 9 January 2016.

With the cold weather beginning residents are lighting their chimneys for the first time this winter but if they have not been swept there is serious risk of fire. BFRS are urging people to have their chimney swept by a professional chimney sweep before they light it for the first to avoid a fire that could destroy their home.

In May a fire in a chimney caused serious damage to a property in Eversholt and in the last three years there have been 168 chimney fires across Bedfordshire.

Chimneys can easily be blocked, for example by a bird’s nest or combustible materials building up in the chimney, these then cause smoke to back up into the property or are ignited by high temperatures or flames from the hot fireplace.

Saturday’s  five incidents began at 10.59 when Bedfordshire Fire Control were called to a chimney fire in a house High Street, Risely. On-call Firefighters from Harrold Community Fire Station attended and used a stirrup pump and rods to put it out. The incident was closed at 11.40.

A minute later, at 11.00 Fire Control received a call about another chimney fire in a house in High Street, Souldrop Village. Colleagues from Rushden Fire Station were sent to the scene and used a stirrup pump and hand sprayer to extinguish the fire and the incident was closed at 11.56.

At 15.32 Firefighters were called to the next chimney fire in High Street, Silsoe. On-call Firefighters from Shefford Community Fire Station were sent to the fire which was out of arrival. They used a triple extension ladder and thermal imaging camera to inspect the chimney before closing this incident at 16.07.

That evening, at 21.12, on-call Firefighters were called to another chimney fire, this time in in Potton Road, Biggleswade. Again a stirrup pump and rods were used to put the fire out and this incident was closed at 22.27.

The Fire Service were alerted to another chimney fire at 23.09 when they were called to a property in Marston Road, Lidlington. This was put out using buckets of water and chimney rods and the incident closed at 23.49.

To prevent chimney fire householders should:

  • Ensure chimneys are swept regularly by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Between “sweeps” keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well maintained
  • Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
  • Store fuel away from the appliance so sparks do not set it alight
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house
  • Ensure good quality and appropriate fuel is used
  • Avoid blocking air vents or air bricks or interrupting the air supply

Thomas Warner, Prevention Support Manager, said: “Keeping your chimney clean and free of debris helps prevent any build-up of combustible deposits that could catch fire. During the summer, when chimneys aren’t used much, they can also become home to birds’ nests, cobwebs or other material that helps a chimney fire start. Birds’ nests and other debris can also block the flue which means smoke and deadly Carbon Monoxide gas, released during burning, can seep back into the house poisoning the occupants.

“We recommend that you have a working Carbon Monoxide Detector in any room with solid fuel appliance.  Under new laws that came into effect in October landlords are required to fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms containing solid fuel appliances.”

Find your local chimney sweep
There are a number of associations where you can search for a chimney sweep:

  • The Association of Professional Independent Chimney Sweeps
    • 0845 604 4327
  • The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps
  • HETAS (the official body recognised by Government to approve biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services, including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses.)
    • 01684 278170
  • The Institute of Chimney Sweeps
    • 01622 670333
  • The National Association of Chimney Sweeps
    • 01785 811732
  • National Association of Chimney Engineers

www.nace.org.uk 01526 322555

In addition HETAS also lists Registered Installers through its Competent Person Scheme. www.hetas.co.uk/find-installer

Find your local fuel supplier
HETAS lists approved fuel producers in partnership with Woodsure. At www.hetas.co.uk/find-fuels you can search for your local accredited biomass fuel supplier (search by logs, chips, briquettes, pellet and hog) along with a list of solid mineral fuels.

HETAS provides a range of consumer advice leaflets with topics including:

  • Using Wood Fuels for a sustainable future
  • Operating & Maintaining Your Stove
  • Building Regulations & Legal Requirements
  • Chimneys & Linings
  • Protecting Yourself from Carbon Monoxide
  • Smoke Control Areas

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