11 September 2012

Northamptonshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service, the National Association of Chimney Sweeps and HETAS have joined forces to urge householders to ensure their chimney is safe.

With summer drawing to a close, Chimney Fire Safety Week (21st – 27th September) provides a timely reminder to make sure that your chimney is ready for the winter months ahead.

Fire and Rescue Service Head of Community Services Mark Ainge, explains:

“Latest statistics show that there are approximately 6,000 chimney fires a year in England. Last year our service attended 82 chimney fires, many were caused by blocked or damaged flues and were therefore preventable. They usually start when high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extend into the appliance outlet or flue and ignite deposits of soot and creosote. With the colder, winter months looming, now is the time to take the necessary step of having your chimney swept before you start using it!”

Martin P Glynn, the President of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps adds:

“All chimneys and flue-ways should be cleaned and checked during the summer months to ensure they’re free from debris and in full working order before the heating season. A blocked or defective chimney can cause both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisonings so it’s very important to employ a professional qualified Chimney Sweep. To find a certified Chimney Sweep please visit www.nacs.org.uk.

Top tips for preventing chimney fires:

  • Ensure good quality fuel is used, wood should be well seasoned and dry
  • 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/flues clean and well maintained according to the fuel you use:

Smokeless coals - at least once a year
Wood - up to four times a year
Bituminous coal - twice a year
Oil - once a year
Gas - once a year

  • Get a smoke alarm: Don’t forget that having a working smoke alarm can save your life if a chimney fire does break out so test yours today and ensure you and your family know what to do if it goes off.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning: Heating and cooking appliances fuelled by coal, smokeless fuels, wood, oil and gas can cause CO poisoning if they are poorly installed, incorrectly used or if they are not properly and regularly maintained.

  • When fuel does not burn properly, it produces poisonous, and potentially deadly, CO gas. It can also damage your health permanently. The early symptoms of CO poisoning are: tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, chest pains and nausea.

Householders can reduce the risk of CO poisoning by:

  • having appliances installed and properly checked by competent engineers
  • getting chimneys and flues inspected and swept
    not overloading a fire and only burning the fuel it is designed for;
  • fitting a carbon monoxide detector.

Further information about carbon monoxide can be found at the following link: www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic


Notes to Editors

For more information on fire safety please visit www.facebook.com/firekills or speak to Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) is the national trade body for professional Chimney Sweeps in the UK and is also a full member of ESCHFOE representing Great Britain. The NACS is dedicated to consumer chimney safety. The NACS has a dedicated Chimney Training Centre (CTC) for professional Chimney Sweeps to undertake training. The centre is also CITB accredited for the NVQ Chimney Engineering.

HETAS is the Heating Equipment Testing and Approvals Scheme. They are authorised by government to operate approval schemes for installers, chimney sweeps, wood and solid fuel heating equipment, retailers and fuels. A full list of HETAS approved products and services is available on their website at www.hetas.co.uk