With summer drawing to a close East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is issuing a timely reminder to make sure chimneys are ready for the winter months ahead and urging householders to ensure they are safe and swept by a registered chimney sweep.
Dave Sheppard, the borough commander at Eastbourne Community Fire Station in Whitley Road, issued the warning as it was revealed that latest statistics show there are approximately 7,000 chimney fires a year, but most are preventable.
He said, “All chimneys and flue-ways should be cleaned and checked during the summer months to ensure they’re free from debris and in full working order before the heating season.
“A blocked or defective chimney can cause both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisonings so it’s very important to employ a professional qualified chimney sweep.
“It’s important to remember that all fuels contain carbon - including oil, gas, wood, charcoal, coal and smokeless fuel - and care should be taken with all flues at all times to ensure its safe use.
“If you do not get complete combustion then carbon monoxide will be produced.
“The function of sweeping the flue/chimney is to remove the deposits that build up when the burning of carbon based fuels occur.
“By sweeping the flue/chimney it ensures that there is a clear and safe passage for the safe exit of combustion products, which are caused by the burning process.
“This lessens the chances of the chimney catching fire.
“Sweeping will also ensure the safe removal of obstructions that may have lodged inside the flue like nests, cobwebs, loose brickwork, all of which could prevent the safe exit of products of combustion.
“The other function of a chimney sweep is to help and advise people in the safe use of the appliance or intended appliance they may be called out to sweep.”
“With the colder, winter months looming, people will begin to start using open fires and their chimneys again.
“In order to keep you and your family safe from fire, you need to take necessary steps such as ensuring your chimney is swept regularly, depending upon what fuel you burn and I would urge all householders to have a working smoke alarm in their home.”
To find a registered chimney sweep visit www.nacs.org.uk, www.instituteofchimney sweeps.com or www.hetas.co.uk