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Stay safe for Christmas by sweeping away any chimney fire risks

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to keep their chimneys well maintained over the Christmas period

Northamptonshire residents are being urged to ensure their chimneys are well maintained ahead of the Christmas period.

Winter is the most popular time of the year for people to relax in front of the fireplace, but this also makes it one of the busiest times of the year for NFRS crews to be called out.

This week alone, four fire engines attended a fire in Northampton that started in a chimney flue, with the fire spreading to the roof and causing damage to the property.

On average over the last three years, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has been called to between 50-60 chimney fires over the course of 12 months.

And the current Cost of Living Crisis with increased gas and electric bills means that people may be looking at exploring alternative ways of heating their homes this winter, including open fires.

Tina Collett, Prevention Team Leader, said: “We do see an increase in chimney fires when the weather gets colder as people utilise their fireplaces more.

“Some people may also be considering using their fireplace for the first time in a while as a way of avoiding rising energy prices.

“We know times are tough and people may not be able to afford to pay for a professional chimney sweep, but we do think it is important for people’s safety at home to make sure that their chimneys have been well swept and maintained before using them, particularly if they have not been used in a while.

“Some of the most devastating house fires have started in chimneys, and it is simply not worth ignoring the risks before Christmas. We want all households to have a happy and safe Christmas.”

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

For more tips on how to stay safe for Christmas, visit our winter safety page.

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