Friday, 17 February 2012

Chimney Fires

Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service attend around 300 chimney fires per year some of these result in serious damage to the property.
If you have a chimney in your home make sure it is clean and safe for use. Poorly maintained chimneys, hearths and fireplaces can increase the risk of fire breaking out in your home.
Chimney fires are usually started when high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extend into the appliance outlet or flue and the ignition of the combustible deposits within, occurs.
But there are steps you can take to keep your home safe:
  • Ensure your chimney is traditionally swept corresponding to the chart below;

  • Smokeless coals At least once a year
    Wood At least twice a year
    Bituminous coal Twice a year
    Oil Once a year
    Gas Once a year
  •   Wood should be dry and well seasoned this usually takes about 1-2 years. A well seasoned log has drying-out splits in the ends. Never use wet or newly-felled wood as this can cause tar or creosote to form in the wood burner and chimney. If you have a large amount of wood seasoning then consider buying a Log Store
  • Wood & Briquettes with low moisture content give off more heat and are better value for money.
  • Make sure that your fire is well ventilated and enough air is coming in to the room.
  • Have your chimney flue inspected regularly to ensure that it is in good condition.
  • If the wood burner has been used slowly (overnight, for instance), this should be followed by a period of faster burning to dry out any creosote and to warm up the chimney again.
  • Make sure embers are under control and extinguished properly before you go out or go to bed.
  • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Always use an appropriate fireguard; a spark guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers and a nursery guard to stop children or vulnerable people touching the fire.
  • Keep flammable materials and furniture at least 2m from the fire.
  • Check your smoke alarm is working.

Chimney fires have the potential to become a serious fire, causing severe damage to property and endangering life. Burning materials can fall down and set fire to rooms or spread into roof spaces. You can reduce the chances of your chimney catching fire!
• Have your chimney swept at least twice a year if you burn wood or once a year if you burn coal
• Make sure that your fire is well ventilated
• Have your chimney flue inspected regularly to ensure that it is in good condition
• Last thing at night, or if you leave a fire unattended, fix a fireguard in position.

If you have a Chimney Fire
• Bring everyone in the house to the ground floor and be ready to leave the house
• Dial 999 and ask for the Fire Service
• Make sure your fireguard is in position
• Move furniture and carpets away from the fireplace if it is safe to do so
• Keep doors and windows to the room closed
• Do not attempt to put out the fire.

Remember
• There is no charge for the attendance of the Fire Service
• There is very little mess made in dealing with the fire
• The Fire Service will ensure the fire is properly out to prevent further
damage and advise you on what further action to take.

Do not
• Relight the fire until your chimney has been swept
• Light your fire with flammable liquids
• Set your chimney on fire deliberately to clean it.

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