Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Chimney fire safety

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is warning people to ensure their fireplaces are properly maintained during Chimney Fire Safety Week (September 5-11).

With summer now behind us, the Service is urging people who have who have chimneys and open fires to make sure they have taken the correct precautions before getting cosy in front of the fireplace.

Firefighters attended 59 chimney related fires in Essex between July 1 2015 and August 31 this year. These fires are preventable by taking a few simple steps.

Neil Fenwick, Head of Community Safety, said: “As we enter autumn, people will be lighting fires for the first time in months. We recommend people with chimneys and open fires carry out a few simple safety checks.

“We see an increase in the number of chimney fires during colder months and in some cases they can cause real devastation, especially in thatched cottages.

“Chimneys should be swept at least once a year, and even more frequently for those who have burning fires where more soot builds up in the chimney.

“An open fire can also pose a danger but if people take a few simple precautions they can make sure that they and their homes are safe.”

ECFRS is issuing the following safety advice:

- Have your 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 go 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 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. Suitable seasoned timber must be used in all solid fuel stoves. No man made wood such as MDF, ply board and chip board should be burnt.
 - Buy only suitable fuels. Using the wrong type of fuel on a liner will reduce the life of the liner considerably due to increased corrosion. This can create a dangerous situation.
 - Do not overload the grate.

Above all, ensure that you have a working smoke alarm fitted on each floor of your home. To arrange for a home fire safety visit, which includes the fitting of smoke alarms completely FREE of charge, call us on 0300 303 0088 or email

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