Chimney fires in England accounted for over 5,000 incidents dealt with by fire and rescue services between April 2014 and March 2015 last year. This year’s Chimney Fire Safety Week (September 5-9), part of the government’s Fire Kills campaign, calls for homeowners to clean up their act and get their chimneys swept by a HETAS approved sweep to prevent chimney damage, and, in worse cases, household fires.
There are steps homeowners can take to prevent and protect their property. HETAS, the official body recognised by the government for approving biomass and solid fuel services including chimney sweeps, has a database of chimney sweeps across the UK.
Bruce Allen, CEO of HETAS, said: “Sweeping your chimney twice a year and using a quality assured fuel is the key to prevention. Not only does this remove soot and tar deposits, but also gives sweeps the opportunity to check for any problems with the chimney or liner.
“All of HETAS’ approved sweeps are members of one of three chimney sweep trade associations and have attended a HETAS training course. Homeowners using HETAS approved chimney sweeps can be confident that a sweep has obtained the necessary training to safely sweep their chimney and will be giving their home the very best care and attention.”
Peter Holland, chief fire and rescue adviser to the government, said: “An open fire can be an ideal and pleasant way to keep warm in the winter, but without proper maintenance a chimney can become dangerous. Latest statistics show that there are over 5,000 chimney fires a year in England, but most of these are preventable.
“To keep you and your family safe from fire you should make sure you have your chimney swept regularly, depending on what fuel you burn, before the colder months set in and you begin to use your fire again. If the worst should happen, working smoke alarms can give you the early warning, and a fire-plan can help you ensure your family’s escape in a fire – make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them monthly. And don’t keep this advice to yourself – pass it on. Is there anyone you know who may need your help in organising a sweep or testing their alarms?”
For more information on maintaining your chimney and for advice on fire prevention, visit: www.chimneyfiresafetyweek.co.uk. To find your nearest HETAS approval scheme for chimney sweeps, visit: http://www.hetas.co.uk/find-chimney-sweep/.