News release text
With the weather having taken a turn for the worse over the weekend, crews are reminding residents to ensure their chimney is in good working condition before using a wood burning stove or open fire to heat their homes.
Since Friday, firefighters from across the county have been called to 7 properties where chimneys have caught alight:
West Kent – Edenbridge, Dartford
East Kent – Chartham Hatch, Eastry
Mid Kent – Maidstone (2), Charing
The majority of these incidents were caused by either the chimney being in disrepair or a build up of soot from previous use.
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.
“It is easy to overlook the fact that a build up of soot and ash left over from previous fires can lead to the chimney catching alight, presenting a real risk to your home and family.
"I would also remind people to fit and maintain working smoke alarms on every floor of your property to give you the early warning needed in the event of a fire. Just three breaths of toxic smoke from a fire in your home can be deadly.”
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