Chimney Fires – beyond awareness

Chimney Fire – beyond awarenessChimney Fire Safety Week Logo

In September HETAS offered its support to the Fire Kills Chimney Fire Safety Week campaign, promoting to consumers the importance of chimney maintenance. With around 50% of chimney fires take place in England between the months of January, February and March, HETAS will continue to promote this safety message into 2017. How can you help?

Chimney fires can be a very costly incident for homeowners and with over 4,000 incidents across the UK HETAS is keen to continue promoting this important safety message. Fire and Rescue Services reported the following incidents of chimney fires between April 2015 and March 2016.

Chimney Fires: Statistics

  • England: 4,193 – a 19% reduction on the previous year
  • Wales: 432 – a 21% reduction
  • Scotland: 882 – a 9.5% reduction
  • Northern Ireland: 1,225 – a 19% reduction (2014/15 figures)

Whilst the figures appear promising, it is clear that there is work to be done in encouraging homeowners to take action to prevent chimney fires. Some of the key message you can communicate to homeowners are probably incidents you encounter on a daily basis:

  • When and how often should a chimney be swept
  • What fuel to use on their appliance
  • Distance to combustibles – including stacking logs next to an appliance!
  • Do they have a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm fitted?

Did you know that last year over 200 people died in fires in the home? You’re at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.

HETAS has a range of consumer advice leaflets available on the website promoting a range of safety messages and we encourage you to use these. Printed copies are available to purchase through the HETAS Shop, with a number of the flyers available free of charge (postage charges apply).

Incidents relating to thatch fires have also increased in 2016 (in comparison to 2015), as reported by The National Society of Master Thatchers (NSMT). Advice on fire prevention relating to thatch properties can be found at www.nsmtltd.co.uk/fire-prevention-advice.

With nearly 400,000 visits to the HETAS website so far this year, the chimney sweep search is now the third ranking page on the site, with homeowners searching for local HETAS Approved Chimney Sweeps. Click here to find out more about becoming a HETAS Approved Chimney Sweep.

Get in touch with the HETAS team to find out more om 01684 278170 or email info@hetas.co.uk.

Chimney Fire Safety Week is coming….

Chimney Fire Safety Week is coming…

Chimney Fire Safety Week 2016Chimney fires in England accounted for over 5,000 incidents dealt with by fire and rescue services between April 2014 and March 2015 last year. Chimney Fire Safety Week 2016 runs from the 5th September.

Part of the Government’s Fire Kills campaign, Chimney Fire Safety Week 2016 calls for homeowners to clean up their act and get their chimneys swept by a HETAS approved sweep to prevent chimney damage, and, in worse cases, household fires.

Chimney Fire Prevention

There are steps homeowners can take to prevent and protect their property. HETAS, the official body recognised by the government for approving biomass and solid fuel services including chimney sweeps, has a database of chimney sweeps across the UK.

Bruce Allen, CEO of HETAS, comments:

“Sweeping your chimney twice a year and using a quality assured fuel is the key to prevention. Not only does this remove soot and tar deposits, but also gives sweeps the opportunity to check for any problems with the chimney or liner.

“All of HETAS’ approved sweeps are members of one of three chimney sweep trade associations and have attended a HETAS training course.  Homeowners using HETAS approved chimney sweeps can be confident that a sweep has obtained the necessary training to safely sweep their chimney and will be giving their home the very best care and attention.”

Peter Holland, Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser to the Government, says:

“An open fire can be an ideal and pleasant way to keep warm in the winter, but without proper maintenance a chimney can become dangerous.  Latest statistics show that there are over 5,000 chimney fires a year in England, but most of these are preventable.

“To keep you and your family safe from fire you should make sure you have your chimney swept regularly, depending on what fuel you burn, before the colder months set in and you begin to use your fire again.  If the worst should happen, working smoke alarms can give you the early warning, and a fire-plan can help you ensure your family’s escape in a fire – make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them monthly.  And don’t keep this advice to yourself – pass it on.  Is there anyone you know who may need your help in organising a sweep or testing their alarms?”

One of HETAS’ Approved Chimney Sweeps, 22 year old Emily Skeet, explains that sweeping is a quick and hassle-free process for homeowners: “There are a number of myths that needs to be dispelled about chimney sweeping. I think the first images to come into people’s minds are of small, soot-covered children, from ‘Mary Poppins’. Today, it’s a very different reality.”

Emily, who set up her own sweeping business, Cinnabar Stoves Chimney Sweeping, three years ago, carrying out up to six sweeps a day. She adds: “A normal sweep will take me about an hour and a half as I like to have a good chat with the client about their appliance. Contrary to what many people may think, I don’t make a mess. I use modern methods and tools such as a power-sweeping, CCTV and vacuums to ensure minimal disturbance for the homeowner. I’ve had a few cases where customers move all of their furniture out of the room, which really isn’t necessary!”

“People wouldn’t think twice about getting their cars MOT’d, but home appliances often get neglected so I keep in regular contact with clients to remind them which they really appreciate. It might not be on the top of everyone’s to-do lists, but you really can’t afford to risk leaving these things unattended.”

A dedicated website for Chimney Fire Safety Week 2016 will launch during August ahead of the campaign.