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The Heat Is On


As the nights draw in and the weather turns colder West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service are urging people to be aware of the dangers of chimney fires. Open fires and wood burning stoves are a comforting way to keep the winter chill at bay but they can become a serious safety hazard if simple guidelines are not followed.

The warning comes as a result of chimney fires being the most frequently attended incident types in winter. West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service alone, attended over 200 chimney fire incidents in the winter of 2009/10 with many properties having lost the roof, first floor or in some cases been completely destroyed.

Community Fire Safety Officer Jackie Boyle explains: "Most chimney fires are preventable. It is very important that anyone planning to light their fire gets their chimney checked and swept regularly. The consequence of a chimney fire isn't just the damage caused by the fire, there's the dirt and smell from the soot and smoke, which can affect all of your personal property."

"We recommend that people follow our simple guidelines on Chimney Fire Safety to help reduce their chances of a fire."

Safety Tips;

- Have your chimney swept at least once a year, twice a year if burning wood.

- When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only.

- Build smaller, hotter fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.

- Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper.

- NEVER use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.

- Do not overload the grate or appliance.

- Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.

- Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure that it is sound and that the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.

- Ensure the fire is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house.

- Make sure wood burners and other fire appliances are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

- Make sure your smoke alarm is working properly, early detection can save lives.

Fire safety advice is free and easy to access from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service's Community Safety Team on 01243 642878 or