Chimney Fire Safety Week 2017 is here!
There’s nothing quite like the embracing warmth of a stove or an open fire on a cold winter’s night. Not only does their heat caress every corner of your room, but they make stunning focal points, wowing visitors with their charm and elegance. However, treat them without the care they deserve, and stoves and open fires have the potential to be very dangerous. Without the right usage or maintenance, they can greatly increase the risk of a fire in your home.
In a bid to raise awareness of open fire, stove and chimney safety, Fire Kills have launched their Chimney Fire Safety Week campaign for the ninth year in a row. Throughout this next week, this campaign aims to raise awareness about safe chimney use, including the importance of ensuring that chimneys are kept clean and swept regularly, and that appropriate quality fuel is used. Supported by HETAS, the campaign works alongside industry bodies and Fire and Rescue Services to promote this positive safety message and help reduce instances of chimney fires.
What do the stats say?
In 2015/16 there were 5,507 preventable chimney fires across England, Wales and Scotland. Of these avoidable incidents, the majority were caused by poor chimney maintenance, inappropriately sized or poorly installed appliances, blocked chimneys from soot or bird nests, and the burning of wet, unseasoned wood. With these causes in mind, we’ve gathered together some simple tips to help avoid a fire in your chimney …
Regular inspections and sweeps are essential
Be sure to get your chimney inspected and swept on a regular basis by an approved chimney sweep. How often you should get your chimney cleaned depends on the type of fuel you burn, but here is a rough guide:
- Wood – at least four times a year
- Smokeless coals – at least once a year
- Bituminous coal – at least twice a year
- Oil – once a year
- Gas – once a year
You can use the following websites to find a certified chimney sweep:
- The National Association of Chimney Sweeps
- Guild of Master Sweep
- The Association of Professional and Independent Chimney Sweeps
Only use seasoned firewood
For optimal burning, firewood should be dried, or ‘seasoned’ until its moisture content is less than 20%. A well-seasoned log will have drying-out splits in the ends. Wood with a moisture content higher than 20% will not burn as hot as dry wood and will smoke more. Your stove will not burn the tars and creosote in the smoke produced by the fire, which results in a dangerous build up in your flue pipes and chimney. If this creosote is not removed through yearly cleaning, there is a significant danger of it igniting and causing a chimney fire.
For tips on how to measure the moisture content of your firewood, take a look at our handy blog post.
Avoid slumbering an appliance
Unless your appliance has been tested and approved as safe to do so, never leave it in slumber mode. This is when an appliance is purposely set at a low or minimum output for overnight burning, ready to be revived in the morning without the need for relighting.
Never leave a fire unattended
Always make sure that your fire is extinguished before leaving the house – never leave it unattended for any reason.
Use a stove thermometer
Why not install a stovepipe thermometer to help monitor the temperature of your flue? This handy gadget can tell you when you’re in the ‘low-fire zone’ with the risk of excessive creosote build up, the optimum ‘burn zone’, or the ‘over-fire zone’ where you risk wasting fuel and heat. You can then adjust your burning practice as needed.
Install a smoke alarm
Fit a smoke alarm on each floor of your home, making sure to check the batteries weekly and change the batteries yearly. Visit the Fire Kills campaign site to find more information on best practice when it comes to smoke alarms.
We hope you’ll be able to use these simple tips to stay warm, cosy and, most importantly, safe in your home. Keep an eye out for #ChimneyFireSafetyWeek across social media, as people from across the industry get involved and share their advice for safe chimney use. For more information on Chimney Fire Safety Week, and for further tips and guidance on preventing chimney fires, visit the campaign website.