Chimney fires and licensed premises
Last year chimney fires in licensed premises
were one of the most common non domestic incident types attended by
Kent Fire and Rescue Service.
All fires were caused due to a build up of
debris in the chimney and failure to get it swept.
Fires of this nature can smoulder undetected
for some time and present serious risk to you and your
business. Before you use your chimney, it is essential to
ensure it has recently been swept. Whatever fuel you burn it is
important that the chimney is kept clean and you do not allow soot
or ash to build up.
It is also important to avoid storing too much
in the roof space of your premises, especially near the chimney
breast, as this can be a potentially serious fire hazard.
When fire takes hold in a chimney the bricks in the roof space can
become very hot – hot enough to start a smouldering fire that can
set light to any combustible material placed near it. Effectively,
what you store in your roof could become fuel for a larger
Another danger is carbon monoxide, which can
escape from any appliance which burns fossil fuels, such as gas,
coal, wood or oil. If you have a faulty appliance, or your property
is not correctly ventilated or the chimney or flue is blocked, you
risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is vital to recognise that an open fire is
a source of ignition and therefore should be identified as such
within the premises fire risk assessment - failure to do so could
lead to inadequate control measures being in place.
Follow these simple steps to protect you and your
business from a chimney fire:
- have your chimney professionally swept at least once a year,
ideally before use – more frequently for wood (quarterly) and
coal (twice a year)
- make sure the appliance receives enough air to allow the fuel
to burn properly
- only burn suitable fuels, never use petrol or paraffin to light
- do not overload the grate/appliance
- maintain your appliance in accordance with the manufacturer’s
- 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
- consider having a carbon monoxide detector fitted as an
additional safeguard against the build up of poisonous fumes
- ensure your property has a working smoke/fire alarm
- ensure your fire risk assessment is up to date and fully
comprehensive – for guidance about your fire risk assessment see
How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:
- have your appliances installed and regularly serviced by a
- all gas appliances should be installed and regularly serviced
by a Corgi registered engineer
- ensure your home is properly ventilated – never block
- make sure all chimneys are regularly swept and flues are kept