Chimney Safety WeekPosted
With the continuing drop in temperatures marking the end of summer, many of us will once again be lighting fires in our homes to keep warm, and with this comes the need to consider chimney safety.
This week (September 7th- 13th) marks national Chimney Safety Week and fire officers are encouragingresidents to keep basic fire safety advice in mind before lighting their fires for the first time this autumn.
Most chimney fires are preventable - North Wales Fire and Rescue Service was called to 217 chimney fires last year, which was a slight increase from the 212 attended in the previous 12 months.
Stuart Millington, Senior Fire Safety Manager for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, explains: “It is unfortunate that there was a slight increase in chimney fires last year. However, considering this has decreased significantly from 319 during 2012-2013, it is good to see that the fire safety message we’re promoting is a long lasting one.
“Again, this year we would like to remind the public about the importance of keeping yourself, and your family safe by reducing the risk of fires. All chimneys should be swept on a regular basis, and now is the perfect time to do so before the colder winter months set in and you begin to use your fire and chimneys again.”
To keep as safe as possible from chimney fires in the home, Stuart is issuing the following advice:
- All chimneys and flue-ways should be cleaned and checked to ensure they are free from debris and in full working order before the heating season. A blocked or defective chimney can cause both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisonings so it's very important to employ a professional qualified chimney sweep certified by the National Association of Chimney Sweeps.
- Regular maintenance of your chimney will depend on the fuel you burn – if you burn oil or gas, your chimney should be swept once a year, Bituminous - coal twice a year, wood up to four times a year and smokeless coals at least once a year.
- Do not burn wet wood - all wood burned must have a moisture content of no more than 17 percent.
- When thinking about heating your home, it’s important to purchase the correct size appliance for your room - an appliance which is too large will never be used hot enough to volatize all of the fuel within the wood and unburned fuel will pass up the chimney as smoke and condense within the flue as extremely flammable creosote.
Stuart added: “To reduce the risk of fire in your home, always make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed and use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
“If the worst should happen, a smoke alarm can give you the extra time you need to escape in a house fire - make sure you test yours regularly. Remember, if you don’t have a smoke alarm, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service can fit one for free – to register visit www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk or call our 24 hour hotline free on 0800 169 1234.”