Chimney fire plea after worst December for years

1 January 2011

Although the number of chimney fires in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes fell last year, the figure for the freezing month of December was the worst for several years.

There were 140 chimneys fires in 2010, a drop of 19 on the previous year. The figure for the final month of the year was 27, compared with 24 in December 2009, 22 in December 2008 and 17 in December 2007.

With forecasters saying the cold weather could be returning, firefighters are urging people to take extra care with open fires.

Community safety manager Terry Ridgley said: “January, February and March are traditionally three of the busiest months for chimney fires. It’s really important to have your chimney swept regularly and to be extra careful when burning wood.

"I would also urge all householders to have working smoke alarms in their homes."

Terry offered the following safety advice:

  • Have your chimney swept at least once a year – and at least twice a year if you burn wood.

  • If you have recently opened up and started to use a fireplace, make sure it is inspected by a qualified person.

  • When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only. Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper.

  • Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

  • Do not overload the grate or appliance. Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.

  • Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure that it is sound and that the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.

  • Ensure wood burners are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Make sure the appliance receives enough air to allow the fuel to burn properly. Consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted

If you would like Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service to carry out a free safety check in your home, fitting free smoke alarms where needed, ring 01296 744477, email to cs@bucksfire.gov.uk or visit www.bucksfire.gov.uk/bucksfire/free

Chimney fire statistics - number attended by year and district

 

 

2007

 

2008

 

2009

 

 2010

Aylesbury Vale

 

   36

 

   47

 

59

 

   57

Chiltern

 

   11

 

   16

 

22

 

   25

Milton Keynes

 

   13

 

   24

 

28

 

   16

South Bucks

 

   13

 

   16

 

17

 

   16

Wycombe

 

   24

 

   35

 

33

 

   26

Total

 

   97

 

  138

 

159

 

  140

More information

National Association of Chimney Sweeps - www.nacs.org.uk

The Guild of Master Sweeps - www.guild-of-master-sweeps.co.uk