Chimney fires are easy to avoid

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WITH summer drawing to a close and cosy winter nights rolling in, West Sussex firefighters are urging residents to maintain their chimneys.

Firefighters in West Sussex were called to extinguish 168 chimney fires across the county last year, with many homes left badly damaged as a result.

Community fire safety officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Jackie Boyle, said: “Chimney fires are one of the most frequent blazes our crews attend, but the truth is that many of them could easily be prevented.

“They are often caused by infrequent cleaning or sweeping, wet or unseasoned logs being burned or fires being left overnight.

“All chimneys and flue-ways should be cleaned and checked to ensure they are free from debris. A blocked or defective chimney can cause both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning so it’s very important to employ a professional, qualified chimneysweep.”

The campaign is part of the national Fire Kills campaign.

The fire service said maintenance of your chimney depended on what fuel you burn.

If you burn smokeless coal, you should sweep your chimney once a year. For wood it is four times a year. Oil and gas are once a year, and those burning bituminous coal should clean their chimneys twice a year.

The service also urged residents with chimneys to use a fireguard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers, when burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only, ensure the fire is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house, and ensure there is a working smoke alarm on each level of your home.

Fire safety advice is free and easy to access from www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire or find a local chimney sweep through www.nacs.org.uk or call 0800 833464.