Fire Service warning over chimneys

AS cold mornings begin to take hold, Devon and Somerset Fire Service has urged home owners to keep warm safely.

AS cold mornings begin to take hold, Devon and Somerset Fire Service has urged home owners to keep warm safely by ensuring their chimneys are properly swept and in good condition.

Home Safety Manager David Hodge said: "Chimney fires are one of the most common incidents that we attend. Many properties have lost the roof, first floor or in some cases been completely destroyed.

The consequence of having a chimney fire includes the damage caused directly by the fire, along with the dirt and smell from the soot and smoke, which can affect all of your personal property."

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service ask people to:

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* Have your chimney swept regularly (prevention is better than cure).

In normal use, chimneys should be swept as follows:

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* Solid fuel appliances: Once per year at least for smokeless fuel/Twice per year at least for coal.

* Wood burning appliances: Quarterly when in use.

* Gas appliances: Once per year if designed for sweeping.

* Oil fired appliances: Once per year.

Is the brickwork around your chimney sound? If it is not then there is the possibility of fire spreading to the house or roof.

* Do not overload the grate or appliance.

* Maintain your appliance in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

* Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.

* Consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted as an additional safeguard against the build up of poisonous fumes.

* Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

* Ensure your chimney flue is inspected at regular intervals. The loft or roof space should also be checked.

In all circumstances ensure you have working smoke alarms so any sign of fire will be detected early; consider installing smoke detectors in roof spaces to make sure all areas are protected.

To find out the contact for your local chimney sweep, contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on free phone 0800 833464.

For a free Home Safety visit please call 0800 73 11 822.

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