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Making a clean sweep for safety
10:09am Wednesday 5th September 2012 in Lifestyle
Local residents are being warned to get their chimneys swept regularly as part of a national initiative to stamp out chimney fires. Chimney Fire Safety Week runs from September 10th - 16th and will highlight the safety issues of burning wood on open fires or woodburning stoves.
HETAS, the organisation which maintains a national approved register of installers and chimney sweeps, is backing the government's Fire Kills campaign to raise awareness of safety issues. With around 6,000 incidents reported in England last year, chimney fires can have devastating consequences and are a common cause of house fires.
Bruce Allen from HETAS explained ‘chimney fires are likely to be caused by infrequent chimney sweeping, burning unseasoned wet wood, using the wrong size appliance for your home, and leaving wood burning or smoldering overnight or for long periods in wood stoves. By taking a few sensible precautions many chimney fires could be prevented.'
HETAS advises anyone with an open fire or woodburning stove to invest in a smoke alarm, and make sure they test it regularly. Maintenance is also crucially important. Here are some tips from HETAS to help you burn wood fuel safely.
• Ensure your chimney is swept regularly
• Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
• Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
• Ensure the fire is extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house
• Chimneys should be swept according to the type of fuel used: o Smokeless fuels - at least once a year o Bitumous coal - at least twice a year o Wood - quarterly when in use o Oil - once a year o Gas - once a year
• Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks
• Make sure you burn a good quality fuel with a low moisture content, such as one approved by HETAS.
Although it's tempting to forget about your fires with summer in full swing, now is the time to get your chimney swept before the busy autumn period. A qualified chimney sweep will be able to remove the carbon deposits which build up in the chimney when fuel is burnt. Keeping the chimney clear minimises the chance of the chimney catching fire.
Sweeping will also ensure the safe removal of obstructions that may have lodged inside the flue such as birds nests, cobwebs, or even loose brickwork if the chimney is very old or unstable.
HETAS members are qualified to install and service solid fuel and biomass appliances such as woodburners. They are also insured to work in customers' homes and can advise on energy efficiency and safety measures. You can find details of your nearest HETAS installer or chimney sweep online at the HETAS website www.hetas.co.uk