Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Winter fire safety.

As finally arrives and fireplaces are lit and heating systems are turned across the county Essex County Fire and Rescue Service would like to remind people to make sure that their home is safe from the extra fire risks which come with cold weather.

 If you plan on using an open fire, make sure your chimney has been recently swept as a build-up of soot and ash from last year can cause a potentially a chimney fire. These fires are not only dangerous, they can cause a huge amount of damage to a home.

When going to bed, householders should also make absolutely certain that an open fire is either out, or pushed back into the grate and a guard used to prevent flying embers hitting carpets or furniture.

Interior doors should always be closed when going to bed as they can dramatically reduce the spread of fire. 

Portable heaters should be dust-free and kept well away from anything that could catch fire. Sockets should never be overloaded as additional fan and oil heaters are plugged in. Both gas and paraffin heaters should only be used in a well ventilated area. They consume oxygen from the atmosphere and can cause death by asphyxiation (suffocation), if not adequately ventilated. Don’t place heaters near curtains or furnishings and never use them for drying clothes.

Portable gas heaters should have the cylinders stored and changed outside or in a well ventilated atmosphere.

Candles should always be placed on a non flammable surface, be away from soft furnishing like curtains and never be left unattended. Find out more about candle safety here.

Electric blankets should be properly tested to ensure that they are safe. If your blanket or any part of the wiring shows any of these danger signs, you should have it checked or replaced: 

• Fraying fabric. 
• Scorch marks. 
• Exposed elements. 
• Creasing or folding. 
• Soiling. 
• Damp patches. 
• Tie tapes damaged or missing. 
• Worn flex. 
• Loose connections. 
• An old BEAB safety mark - a round symbol (the new sign is white capital letters on a black background). This means it is more than 10 years old.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “As temperatures drop they bring with them extra risks and the need for extra caution. As well as taking precautions with their heating, residents need to remember the dangers of leaving cooking unattended, as the majority of accidental domestic fires begin in the kitchen.

"Anyone with a real fire in their home should make sure that their chimney is clean and free from all blockages before they think about lighting their grate.

“The best advice I can give is make sure that you fit, and regularly test, a smoke alarm. It is the single most important piece of safety equipment in any home.”

To arrange a free home fire safety visit for yourself or an elderly or vulnerable family member or neighbour calll us on 0300 303 0088 or email

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