Warning on chimney fire safety

NORTHERN Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) attended over 1,400 chimney fires in 2011 representing just over 5 per cent of all incidents attended by NIFRS that year.

This Chimney Fire Safety Week NIFRS is reminding householders that chimney fires can be easily prevented by getting chimneys swept regularly to ensure that they are safe and clean for use. NIFRS advise that summer time is an ideal time to do this before the colder months set in and householders begin to use the open fire in their homes to stay warm.

Alan Hamill, Group Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said, “With summer in full swing an open fire is the last thing on most peoples’ minds, but this Chimney Fire Safety Week we are urging anyone who plans to light their fire this coming autumn and winter to be ‘fire safe’ and have the flue swept first.

“The cost of a chimney sweep, once a year, is very small when compared to dealing with the damage and cost of repair after a chimney fire not to mention the potential threat to life if the chimney fire were to spread to the rest of the property.

“With the rising cost of home heating, open fires are becoming an increasingly common way to save money but we are encouraging people not to make cut backs when it comes to their fire safety. All chimney fires have the potential to be extremely dangerous, however with regular inspection and cleaning of the chimney flue, the chances of a fire can be greatly reduced.

“A clean chimney flue creates a clear and safe passage, lowering the risk of the chimney catching fire. Sweeping will also mean that objects such as nests, cobwebs and loose brickwork are cleared, which also helps minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Summer is the best time to get your chimney swept before the peak season for chimney sweeps kicks in and before you start using your fire in the colder months. Also ensure that you have working smoke alarms in your home and if you think you have a chimney fire call 999 immediately and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.”

To find a certified chimney sweep visit the Northern Ireland Association of Chimney Sweeps – www.niacs.co.uk