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Chimney Fires

Make a Clean Sweep of It!

The number of chimney fires in the UK is on the rise.

During the winter of 2008 / 2009,  there was a 30% rise in fires from the previous year - possibly due to the side-effects of the current credit crunch. It appears that more people are using open fires and wood burners, because of the rising costs of gas, electricity and oil.

An incident last winter also highlighted the dangers of a blocked central heating flue where an elderly couple suffered from the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. This can happen with any fossil fuel system (which includes both the appliance and the flue) if it is faulty or the room is not properly ventilated.

Most chimney fires are preventable. Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help prevent fires within chimneys.

We are urging anyone who plans to light their fire this winter to get it swept first. The cost of a chimney sweep is very small (from approximately £30) when compared to dealing with the damage and cost of repair from a fire.

A few simple tips to reduce the risk of fire...

Simple tips to greatly reduce your chances of having a fire in your chimney:

  • Sweep the chimney before use
  • Ensure a fireguard is in front of the fire at all times
  • Sparkguards can prevent a serious property fire
  • Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and check it works regularly!

The National Association of Chimney Sweeps has a network of fully insured members throughout the country, who work to a Code of Practice. For more details telephone free on 0800 833464, or visit the Chimneyworks website.  

Or visit the the UK professional association of chimney sweeps website for more

How often should I clean my chimney?

We recommend the following simple maintenance routines:

Solid Fuel Fires - Once a year for smokeless fuel; twice a year for coal
Wood Burning Fires - 4 times a year when in use
Gas Fires - Once a year if designed for sweeping
Oil Fires - Once a year 

In the event of a chimney fire...

  • Dial 999 and ask for the Fire Service. It will help if someone can wait outside to meet them.
  • If you have a conventional open fire, extinguish the fire by gently splashing water onto the open fire.
  • If you have a solid fuel appliance, close down the ventilation as much as possible.
  • Move furniture and rugs away from the fireplace and remove any nearby ornaments.
  • Place a sparkguard in front of the fire.
  • Feel the chimney breast in other rooms for signs of heat.
  • If a wall is becoming hot, move furniture away.
  • Ensure that access to your attic or roof space is available for the Fire Service as they will want to thoroughly check this area for signs of possible fire spread.

Always call the Fire and Rescue Service for a chimney fire - it has the ability to destroy your home.


Without proper maintenance, any flue from a fire or stove can cause a dangerous build up of carbon monoxide gas. A carbon monoxide detector will help protect you from this risk. Visit our safety page on Carbon Monoxide for more information.

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