The fire service is calling for people to ensure their chimneys are properly maintained after being called out to 27 chimney fires across the county since the start of December.
In December, crews were called to 15 chimney fires in people’s homes and one in a hotel. So far in January the service has attended 10 in homes and one at a hotel.
Group Commander Chris Parker said: “If you have an open fire in your home, it is vital that you have your chimney swept at least once a year to prevent a build up of debris which could start a fire.
“In addition to this, the brickwork on the chimney should also be inspected, particularly in the roof space to ensure there are no cracked or broken bricks which embers could escape through.”
He added: “Open fires can be cosy and a cheaper way to stay warm, but a chimney fire can be expensive – certainly a lot more than the cost of having the chimney swept. Not only could a fire cause extensive damage to your home, but it could also put the lives of you and your family at serious risk if it spreads.”
Top tips to enjoy an open fire safely:
• Have the chimney swept at least once a year, or more frequently if you burn wood.
• Do not build fires too high and remember to let them burn down well before you retire to bed.
• Check the hearth, floor and furnishings near the fire for hot sparks or embers before you go to bed.
• Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires and make sure that it has the kite mark or conforms to a relevant British/European safety standard.
• Do not place objects on or over the mantle-piece which may cause you to stand too close to the fire to reach or use them.
• Inspect your chimney breast regularly – particularly in the roof space – to ensure that it is sound and that sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.
• Avoid burning resinous woods as soot builds up quickly.
• Buy only suitable fuels.
• Do not overload the grate or appliance.
Above all, ensure that you have a working smoke alarm fitted on each floor of your home. This will give you an early warning to a fire, allowing extra time for everyone in the home to escape.