News release text
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is once again issuing advice to residents after an increase in chimney fires across the county.
Between November and January, crews attended over a 100 confirmed chimney fires, most of which were caused by a build up of soot or ash from previous use. This is higher then the same period last year.*
There have already been 11 similar incidents this month:
East Kent: Chilham, Lower Hardres, Finglesham, Canterbury
South Kent: Boughton Aluph, New Romney, Cranbrook
Mid Kent: Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge (x2)
West Kent: Dartford
KFRS Head of Community Safety, Stuart Skilton, said:” We are advising residents who do use an open fire or wood burning stove to have their chimney swept regularly and also to consider having the condition of your chimney checked to ensure it is safe.
“These incidents have the potential to do a lot of damage to your property and it can put your family at risk if it spreads, as just three breaths of toxic smoke from a house fire can be deadly. It is also vital to have working smoke alarms fitted in your home, to ensure you and your family are alerted in the unfortunate event of fire and to give you the extra time you need to escape.”
Follow these simple steps to protect your home and your family from chimney fires:
Have your chimney swept at least once a year – more frequently if you burn wood
Make sure the appliance receives enough air to allow the fuel to burn properly
Only burn suitable fuels
Do not overload the grate/appliance
Maintain your appliance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires
Inspect your chimney breast, particularly the roof space. Make sure that it is sound and that the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.
Avoid storing items in the roof space close to your chimney
Consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted as an additional safeguard against the build up of poisonous fumes.
Make sure you fit, and regularly test, a smoke alarm. It is the single most important piece of safety equipment in any home.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service offer free safety advice call 0800 923 7000 or go to www.3breaths.info for further information.
To find a certified chimney sweep, or for more information on chimney fire safety please visit the Institute of Chimney Sweeps website at www.instituteofchimneysweeps.com.
* Note to newsdesks: There were 102 confirmed chimney fires between 1 November 2012 and 31 January 2013. Between November 2011 and January 2012 there were 99 confirmed chimney fires.