349 Shropshire chimney fires in two years

Chimney fires could increase across the county if the temperature drops below freezing, warned Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Firefighters attended a total of 349 home chimney fires over the past two years –and the majority would have been prevented if the householder had the chimney swept.

More people light open fires or the wood burner as Winter days grow colder but they must not forget to get the chimney swept at least once a year and more often depending on the fuel used to avoid a chimney fire, said Tamara Hackett, of the county brigade’s Community Fire Safety team.

“A fire in a chimney can reach temperatures of 1,100 degrees Celsius. The heat can crack the chimney and sparks can set the roof on fire.

“It usually occurs when the chimney hasn’t been swept often enough or unseasoned wood is burned or a fire is left to smoulder in a wood burner for a long time.

“Chimneys get choked with soot and smoke and there is a possible danger from carbon monoxide entering the room,” she said.

Advice from Shropshire firefighters who were called out to more than 40 chimney fires in December 2010 includes:

  • Get the chimney swept regularly by a chimney sweep who is a member of a professional association or guild.
  • Only burn the correct fuel and don’t dispose of plastics or rubbish on the fire.
  • Use dry seasoned timber with moisture levels below 25 per cent to avoid tarring the inside of the chimney.
  • A fire guard will protect against flying sparks and embers.
  • Ensure the fire is out before going to bed.

Leaflets reminding householders of the danger are being distributed by firefighters across the county as part of an annual prevention campaign. They are also reminding everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms installed on each floor of their homes and check they work each week.

“After our campaign last year, chimney fires in Shropshire reduced from 43 in 2010 to 20 in December last year. We would like to reduce them even further to avoid a call out to the brigade and prevent the distress to householders which a chimney fire always causes,” added Tamara

For more information about fire safety visit our Promoting Safer Communities pages or call the Community Fire Safety Department on 01743 260 260.

27th November, 2012