Nationwide week of action calls for chimneys to be swept

Chimney safety is the theme for the current National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) week of action, supported by Cheshire firefighters who are urging homeowners to get their chimney swept before the bad weather sets in.

The aim of Chimney Fire Safety week, running from 31 August to 6 September, is to raise awareness of the dangers of chimney fires, including the importance of ensuring that chimneys are swept regularly and in time for winter.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is prompting householders to ensure their chimney is safe and to have their chimney swept by a registered chimney sweep.

Here's some safety advice that firefighters would like people to remember:

  • Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers

  • Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained

Nick Evans, Head of Prevention at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, explains: “We want to keep people who use log burners and coal fires  safe so are asking them to ensure they get their chimney swept now as regular sweeping helps prevent a build-up of deposits.”

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)

An open fire is ideal to keep homes warm, but without proper maintenance a chimney can become dangerous. Other advice includes:

  • Keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well 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 is 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 has 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

Nick added: “If the worst should happen, a working smoke alarm will give the extra time needed to escape in the event of a house fire occurring so make sure they are tested regularly.

“I’d also like to remind people to set up a family fire escape plan to ensure everyone knows what to do if a fire starts.”