Make it a clean sweep for your chimney this autumn

26 September 2017
A chimney sweep sweeping a fireplace and chimney

​As colder weather begins to arrive, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is reminding people to get their chimneys professionally swept to guard against fire.

Although the number of chimney fires attended by NFRS has been falling since 2012/13, when 133 were recorded, in 2016/17 firefighters were still called to 68 incidents.

To help reduce this figure further, NFRS is encouraging people to ensure they use an approved sweep to regularly clean their chimneys, and only burn appropriate quality fuels.

Rhea Dungey, of the NFRS Home Safety team, said: “Modern chimney-sweeping is a quick and hassle-free process, but chimney fires still can and do happen because householders neglect to take proper care of their fireplaces and stoves.

“We’re calling on everyone who enjoys a cosy fire in the colder months to first get their chimneys swept by an approved sweep. This way you’ll be preventing chimney damage, and in the worst case scenarios, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or a household fire.”

Brick chimney with a cleaning brush poking outKeep it clean, keep it safe

The clean sweep message is also being spread by the Fire Kills campaign, backed by HETAS, the government-approved body which approves biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services, and the National Association of Chimney Engineers (NACE).

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.”

To keep you and your family safe, chimneys should be swept before you begin to use your fire again, and then swept at regular intervals, depending on the type of fuel you burn.

NACE recommended chimney cleaning intervals

  • Smokeless fuels/coal – 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

Always use an approved chimney sweep to be sure the person carrying out the sweep is fully trained and can issue a valid certificate of sweeping, which many insurance companies now require.

If you use a stove or other appliance, it’s also important to have this regularly serviced and cleaned by a registered chimney engineer.

General home fire safety

Having at least one working smoke alarm on every floor of your home is also vital, as are working carbon monoxide detectors. All alarms should be tested at least once a month.

Sit down as a household and come up with an escape plan everyone understands, so you all know what to do if an alarm goes off. Remember – get out, stay out, call 999.

Find a chimney engineer Find a chimney sweep

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