Friday, 20 December 2013

Don't let a festive fire ruin your Christmas - check your chimney

If you’re planning to spend a cosy Christmas in front of a roaring fire, don’t strike a match unless you are confident that your chimney is clear, clean and well maintained.

At this time of year, it can be tempting to clear out the grate and light the first winter fire in time for Christmas or New Year guests to arrive. But you need to take care because chimneys are a common cause of house fires and can cause widespread damage.

Make sure that your chimney or flue is clean and well maintained. Don’t light a fire if you can’t remember the last time it was checked and cleaned. The frequency with which a chimney should be swept depends on the type of fuel you burn. Here is a quick guide:
  • Smokeless fuels - at least once a year
  • Bituminous coal - at least twice a year
  • Wood - quarterly when in use
If you do light a fire, always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks, don’t overfill the grate and keep an extinguisher to hand. 

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has issued the safety warning following the announcement of further industrial action by members of the Fire Brigades Union on Christmas Eve (7pm – midnight), New Year’s Eve (6.30 pm – 12.30am) and Friday 3rd January (6.30 am – 8.30 am).

Steve Wright, Community Safety Team Manager, said: “Although an open fire can provide extra warmth and a wonderful Christmas glow, we want people to be extra cautious this year and turn the central heating up a notch rather than light the fire if they can’t remember the last time they had the chimney checked and cleaned.

“Of course you need to make sure that you have a working smoke alarm on each floor in your home to give you and your family an early warning if the worst happens. If you do have a fire, get out, stay out and dial 999.”

Further chimney fire safety advice is available on our website. 

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