Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue ask people to get their chimneys swept after increase in chimney fires

An open fire.

An open fire. - Credit: Archant

A WEEK-long campaign encouraging people to have their chimneys swept has been launched after an increase in chimney fires last winter.

As part of National Chimney Fire Safety Week, which began on Monday, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking residents with open fires and chimneys to prepare themselves for winter by calling in a chimney sweep.

Between October 2012 and March 2013 they attended 58 chimney fires in Cambridgeshire, compared with 50 during the same period the previous year.

Firefighters are calling for residents to ensure their chimneys are swept at least once a year to reduce the risk of fire in the coming cold months.

Rick Hylton, Area Commander at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “If you have an open fire in your home, it is vital that your chimney is swept at least once a year to prevent a build up of debris which could start a fire.

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“In addition to this, the brickwork on the chimney should also be inspected, particularly in the roof space to ensure there are no cracked or broken bricks which embers could escape through.

“Open fires can be cosy and a cheaper way to stay warm, but a chimney fire is chilling and expensive. Not only could it cause extensive damage to your home, but it could also put the lives of you and your family at serious risk.”

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Top tips to enjoy an open fire safely:

Have the chimney swept at least once a year, or more frequently if you burn wood.

Do not bank fires too high and remember to let them burn down well before you retire to bed.

Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires and make sure that it has the kite mark or conforms to a relevant British/European safety standard.

Do not place objects on or over the mantle-piece which may cause you to stand too close to the fire to reach or use them.

Inspect your chimney breast regularly – particularly in the roof space – to ensure that it is sound and that sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.

Avoid burning resinous woods as soot builds up quickly.

Buy only suitable fuels.

Do not overload the grate or appliance.

Above all, ensure that you have a working smoke alarm fitted on each floor or your home.

This will give you give you an early warning to a fire, allowing extra time for occupants in the home to escape.

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