Chimney fires spark safety plea

Homeowners are being urged to make sure their chimneys are swept regularly after firefighters after attending a series of recent incidents.

In the 12-day period between Friday 18 January and today, Tuesday 28 January inclusive, there were 15 different incidents which Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) helped with.

No one has been injured as a result of any of the incidents.

The chimney fires have happened in Olveston, Bishopston, Winscombe, Wick, Paulton, Hawkesbury Upton, Dundry, Batheaston, Chipping Sodbury, Saltford, Monkton Combe, South Stoke, Clapton in Somerset, Keynsham and Compton Martin.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “One of the main reasons a chimney catches fire is because of a build up of debris inside.

“Chimneys where fires are burning smokeless fuels, bituminous coal, oil or gas should be swept at least once a year.

“Those burning wood need to be swept every three months when in use.”

Top tips for preventing a chimney fire include:
• Don’t use flammable liquids like petrol or paraffin to light your fire.
• Don’t burn paper or rubbish.
• Don’t overload the fire with fuel.
• Occasionally go into the loft when the fire is lit and check for any smoke coming out of cracks, defective brickwork or mortar joints.
Top tips if you do have a chimney fire:
• Dial 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service.
• Alert everybody in the house.
• Leave the property, closing behind you the door to the room where the fire is, and wait for the fire and rescue service to arrive.

SM Edwards added: “One of the best things you can do to protect your home and family is to ensure you have a working smoke alarm, ideally at least one on every floor of your property.

“Smoke alarms provide an early warning of fire, giving occupants vital extra minutes to escape and call 999, but only if they are working properly.

“Just two or three breaths of toxic smoke is enough to render a person unconscious, so the quicker you leave the premises, the better.”