Father Christmas issues chimney safety advice with firefighters

Father Christmas has teamed up with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service to urge residents to make sure their chimneys have been swept in time for Christmas.

Last winter (October 2011 to April 2012), firefighters attended 62 chimney fires across the county. And now that the weather is getting cold this year, there have been several chimney fires already this December, including two last night (see www.cambsfire.gov.uk for further details).

By sweeping the chimney you will help to ensure that your family is safe from fire this Christmas…and of course, that Santa is able to fit down the chimney easily to deliver presents.

Andy Tucker, Risk Manager at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

“A chimney fire can easily spread to the rest of the home, threatening the lives of those inside.

“This makes it all the more frustrating that most chimney fires could easily be avoided if the chimney had been swept regularly –as the vast majority are caused by a build up of soot and debris in the chimney.

“Although Santa will still be able to visit homes, if chimneys are blocked with debris he will have a nightmare trying to squeeze down them with presents.”

Follow these top tips for ensuring that your chimney is kind to Santa’s needs this year:

i Have your chimney swept at least once a year, or more frequently if

you burn wood.

i Avoid burning resinous woods, such as conifers, as soot builds up


i Burn only suitable fuels.

i Do not overload the grate or appliance.

i Even if your chimney is lined, you still need to have it swept regularly.

i Do not bank fires too high and remember to let them burn down well

before you retire to bed.

i Check the hearth, floor and furnishings near the fire for hot sparks or

embers before you go to bed.

i 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


i 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.

i 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.

i When choosing a chimney sweep, ensure that they have adequate

public liability insurance.

For further information about chimney sweeping, visit the following websites: The National Association of Chimney Sweeps –www.chimneyworks.co.uk Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps –www.guildofmasterchimneysweeps.co.uk