Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Winter Fire Safety Advice

Winter is usually a busy time for fire services as we face an increase in calls to house fires caused by candles, portable heaters, fireplaces/wood burners and electric blankets.

Watch Manager Paul Pemberton, said:

"As a fire service we see a sharp rise in the number of incidents we attend during the winter months, and in the last week alone we have been to three chimney fires, a fire caused by an electric blanket and a fire caused by a portable heater and extension lead.

"All these heating devices bring with them extra risk and can all be a hazard, but by following a few simple safety tips you can make sure that your home and family are as safe as it can be throughout the winter."

Electric Blanket

  • Check your electric blanket, and the plug and cable for signs of wear and tear.
  • Ensure your electric blanket has overheat protect function and complies to British Standard with the kitemark displayed.

Chimney Fire Safety

  • Have your chimney swept at least once a year, or more frequently if you burn wood. (Always use a competent chimney sweep who is able to provide you with a certificate upon completion of their work.)
  • Only use suitable fuels. Using the wrong type of fuel on a liner will reduce the life of the liner considerably due to increased corrosion.
  • Avoid burning resinous woods as soot builds up quickly. Suitable seasoned timber must be used in all solid fuel stoves.
  • Do not stack fires too high and remember to let them burn down well before you go to bed.
  • Use a fire or spark guard.
  • 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

Portable heaters and extension leads

  • Never leave portable heaters unattended
  • Never leave them on whilst sleeping
  • Ensure that they are positioned well away from anything which could knock them over
  • Ensure they are at least a metre away from any combustible materials (paper/curtains)
  • Never buy second hand halogen heater
  • Never power a halogen heater from an extension lead - these can easily be overloaded and cause fires
  • Regularly inspect your heater and extension lead for damage. If it’s damaged, don’t use it.


  • Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and are away from materials that may catch fire
  • Children should not be left alone with lit candles
  • Put candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re put out completely at night
  • Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, but avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service fit smoke alarms completely FREE of charge. Call us on: 0300 303 0088 or book online:


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