Warning after spate of chimney fires

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FOLLOWING a spate of chimney fires this week, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is urging householders to ensure their chimney is fire-safe as the weather turns colder.

An open fire is ideal for keeping warm but without proper maintenance a chimney can become dangerous.

Community fire safety manager Steve Wright said: “To keep yourself and your family safe from fire you should take care to have your chimney swept regularly before the colder winter months set in and you begin to use your fire and chimneys again.

“Always use a registered chimney sweep, it is essential that chimneys are swept regularly and are clean and safe for use.

“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.”

To find your local chimney sweep, contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on free phone 0800 833464 or www.nacs.org.uk.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service recommends that people follow its guidelines on chimney fire safety to help reduce the chance of a fire:

Have your chimney swept at least once a year, twice a year if burning wood.

When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only.

Build smaller, hotter fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.

Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper.

Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.

Do not overload the grate or appliance.

Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.

Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure that it is sound and that the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.

Ensure the fire is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house.

Make sure wood burners and other fire appliances are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.

Make sure your smoke alarm is working properly, early detection can save lives.

Visit the ESFRS website at www.esfrs.org/communitySafety/advice/chimney.shtml.