Warning after two chimney fires in one night

Make sure your chimney is regularly swept, says Lincolnshire Fire Service. EMN-160118-102117001
Make sure your chimney is regularly swept, says Lincolnshire Fire Service. EMN-160118-102117001

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service was warning householders with open fires to make sure they get their chimneys swept regularly after dealing with two fires in one night.

Firefighters from Grantham were called on Saturday night at 7.36pm to a property on Grantham Road, Hough on the Hill, where a chimney was reported on fire.

Specialist chimney gear was used to put out the fire.

A fire service spokesman said that night: “We have attended two chimney fires so far this evening. Please have your chimney swept at least once a year.”

Residents were asked to watch the specially created Youtube video here and follow this advice:

If you have a wood-burner or fireplace in your home, don’t forget to take vital safety precautions to protect your home and family from dangerous chimney fires.

What causes chimney fires?

Chimney fires usually occur because the deposits of combustion are left within the flue-ways.

By definition, a chimney fire is the burning of soot or creosote within the appliance, outlet or flue system, which can result in the improper function of the appliance - and serious damage to the flue, house or surrounding structures. A build-up of soot in the chimney could cause a serious house fire.

Chimney fires are usually started when high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extend into the appliance outlet or flue and ignite a build-up of combustible deposits in the flue or chimney.

Why are they so dangerous?

Chimney fires can be very dangerous - they can damage your fireplace, wood-burner, flue or chimney and they can spread quickly throughout your house and even neighbouring properties.

What can you do to prevent a chimney fire?

The best way to prevent a chimney fire is to have your chimney swept on a regular basis to remove the build-up of soot and deposits that occurs through regular burning of carbon-based fuels.

Sweeping your chimney ensures there is a clear and safe passage for the exit of combustion by-products. It’s important to remember that all fuels contain carbon - including oil, gas, wood, charcoal, coal, and smokeless fuel - and care should always be taken with all flues to ensure safety. Not only will this prevent a chimney fire, but it will also help prevent the production of carbon monoxide, which can result from incomplete combustion.

Sweeping will also ensure the safe removal of obstructions lodged in the flues such as nests, cobwebs, and even loose brickwork which could prevent safe exit of combustion by-products.

So it’s important to have your chimney swept regularly - and how often it should be swept depends on the type of fuel used. Here’s a handy guide:

Smokeless fuels - at least once per year

Bituminous coal - at least twice per year

Wood - quarterly when in use

Oil - once a year

Gas - once a year (any work on gas appliances requires a Gas Safe-registered installer/engineer)

Further tips:

Never interrupt air-supply by blocking air vents or air bricks

Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers

Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed

Only burn seasoned wood from reputable suppliers

Ensure the fire is fully-extinguished before going to bed

Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

Ensure your chimney is well-maintained

How can I find a local, registered chimney sweep?

A great resource for finding a local professional chimney sweep is the Institute of Chimney Sweeps website. It has a ‘find a sweep’ option so you can do a search and view contact details for sweeps in your area.

You can also search on the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) website by clicking on the ‘sweep search’ button.

Alternatively, you can search for a chimney sweep on the HETAS website.

Who is responsible for maintaining my chimney?

Any person who uses flue appliances has a responsibility to maintain the appliance and flue.

It is often stated within the terms of household insurance policies that people should take ‘reasonable care,’ and if you have a thatched property. The frequency of chimney-sweeping is often specified by the insurers.

Additionally, landlords have a duty of care to their tenants and are required to repair and keep in working order any room heater and water-heating equipment.

What if I’ve had a chimney fire?

After a chimney fire has occurred and been extinguished, the chimney MUST be inspected as soon as possible.

A certified sweep should perform a thorough inspection before the chimney is used again to ascertain whether the rapid and dramatic temperature fluctuations that occur during a chimney fire have caused any damage. They will also advise whether any remedial measures are necessary.

Remember - it is imperative that you do not use the chimney before it has been inspected by a professional!