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Sweep away any fire risk with your chimney this winter

Northamptonshire residents are being urged to ensure their chimneys are well maintained, as the Fire Service sees an increasing number of chimney fires.

With winter proving the most popular time of the year to relax in front of the fireplace, it’s also the most common time of year for our crews to get called out.

In the 2020/21 financial year, Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service was called to 59 chimney fires, which was slightly down on the previous year’s total of 68.

But with more than three months left in the financial year, the Service is keen not to pass last year’s target, and currently in 2021/22 we’ve been called to 44 – but a growing number have been in recent weeks.

Tina Collett, Prevention Team Leader, said: “With the current COVID guidelines meaning more of us will be staying at home, and with the weather also getting colder, it can be a great time to utilise our fireplaces.

“But we also lead busy lives and you may not have had the chance to organise a professional chimney sweep. We would urge people to ensure that their chimneys have been well swept and are well maintained before using them regularly.

“Chimney fires can often end up becoming devastating house fires and ignoring any fire prevention efforts just before Christmas is not worth the risk.”

Chimneys should be cleaned four times a year if you are using wood, twice a year if you are using coal, and at least once a year if you are using smokeless fuels, oil or gas.

Here are some top tips for avoiding a chimney fire:

  • Keep your chimney and flue clean and well maintained
  • Ensure any fire is extinguished properly before leaving or going to bed
  • Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your house and test them regularly

If you have a chimney fire, remember the following:

  • Your first option should be to ring 999, then get out and stay out
  • If it is safe for you to do so, shut all air vents and flue dampers to reduce oxygen supply
  • Move flammable materials such as furniture away from the fireplace

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