At Billing we know only too well the importance of keeping a chimney clean and in good repair, as the consequences of not doing so can be dreadful. In keeping with this, we are strong supporters of Chimney Fire Safety Week, an annual opportunity to speak up about the consequences of poor chimney maintenance and how to ensure your chimney is safe to use.
Now in its eighth year, Chimney Fire Safety week is a joint venture by the government’s Fire Kills campaign and HETAS, a not-for-profit organisation that trains and approves heating appliances, fuels and services, including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses. Billing is a proud member of HETAS.
This year Chimney Fire Safety Week takes place from 4th to 10th September. The week and aims to highlight what causes these types of fires and to get the message across to homeowners on how they can be pro-active in reducing the risk of such a fire happening in their property.
The biggest cause of chimney fires is poor maintenance, followed by poor maintenance of associated appliances. In addition to fires, leakage of gases, notably carbon monoxide is also a killer. Soot, chimneys blocked by debris such as bird nests and burning the wrong things can all cause problems with chimneys. In fact, statistics tell us that in 2004/15 there were over 5,000 preventable chimney fires in England alone. So, what can you do to ensure you don’t suffer the consequences of a chimney fire?
Having your chimney swept is something that should be as much a part of a household routine as getting the car MOT’d. In some cases, depending upon fuel type, this should be more frequent than annually. HETAS recommends chimneys should be swept:
TIP! – Pass this information on to family and friends with chimneys – it may save their lives!
Use the correct fuel for your appliance. Wood burners can be wood only or multi-fuel, make sure you know which yours is. Choose logs with a moisture content of 20% or less. Wood that isn’t seasoned will create tar and creosote in the chimney which can catch fire. Burning the wrong kind of smokeless coal can damage your chimney liner and can invalidate warranties.
TIP! – Source your fuel from an accredited supplier – visit www.woodsure.co.uk for information about fuels and for details of approved suppliers.
Some good housekeeping will reduce the risk of fire.
If you have an open fire, use a fire guard. This will protect from sparks, especially when adding cold or damp logs. Make sure the fire is out before going to bed or going out for the evening. Don’t allow your fire to ‘slumber’ – stay on low, usually overnight, unless the appliance has been tested to allow this. Don’t leave stores of fuel beside the fire or appliance as sparks from the fire can slip into the pile unnoticed and slow burn before igniting.
TIP! – Your wood burner is not an incinerator, burning the wrong things can cause dangerous build ups in the chimney or flue
All homes should have a smoke alarm. There’s no question that a working smoke alarm could save you in a fire. Sadly, around 35 people die each year because their smoke alarm is not working; you’re at least four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.
You should also have a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty appliances and from faulty chimneys can kill.
TIP! – When you buy smoke alarms, check they have these 2 marks:
Chimney fires are preventable. Regular sweeping and good maintenance will ensure that the risk of fire is greatly reduced if not eliminated altogether. Why not give Billing a call and we can advise on what is best way to maintain your chimney and appliance?
TIP! – Why not ask Billing to inspect your chimney – we use state-of-the-art CCTV and can detect cracks and faults where gases can leak into your home.
See our Chimney Fire Safety Week 2017 campaign.
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