Kent Fire & Rescue Service

Check your chimney plea to homeowners after fire callouts

7 February 2015

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is urging residents to have their chimneys swept and make sure they are fit for purpose after 53 call outs since the start of the year.

Since the beginning of February crews have been called to the following incidents:

  • School Terrace, Hawkhurst at 9.38am Friday. Two fire engines attended for almost three hours and crews used safe access equipment and a height vehicle to access and remove a damaged chimney pot.

  • Romden Road, Smarden at 9.26am on Friday. One pump attended for about an hour. 

  • Tower Hill, Whitstable at 7.12pm on Thursday. One pump attended for about 30 minutes after a small fire in a log burner spread to the chimney.

  • Littlestone Road, New Romney, 3.29pm on Thursday. Crews were in attendance for about 40 minutes and used chimney gear, ladders and safe access equipment to deal with the fire.

  • Main Road, Knockholt at 9.39pm on Wednesday. Two pumps attended for about 40 minutes and firefighters used a hose reel and chimney gear to tackle the fire.

  • Leslie Crescent, Tenterden, 5.11pm on Wednesday. One pump attended for about 30 minutes. A thermal imaging camera was used to check for fire spread and chimney gear used to put the blaze out.
  • Church Lane, Challock at 4.35pm on Wednesday. One crew attended for about 35 minutes.

  • Wrotham Road, Meopham at 10.41pm on Tuesday. One fire engine was at the scene for just over an hour tackling the fire.

  • Sissinghurst Road, Biddenden at 9.44pm on Tuesday. One pump was in attendance for about 30 minutes.

  • Sheppey Way, Bobbing at 6.26am on Sunday. Two fire engines attended and crews tackled a fire in a log burner and flue. They also carried out a home fire safety check and were at the property for about 45 minutes.

  • Whitehall Road, Ramsgate at 7.09pm on Sunday. Crews found a build-up of soot and debris in the chimney was to blame for the fire. They were at the house for approximately 30 minutes.

Luckily for the homeowners there was no major damage to their homes, but incidents such as these can be frightening for those involved and do have the potential to be very serious.

KFRS Head of Community Safety, Lee Rose said: "With the colder weather there is an increased chance that we may see more of these types of incidents, even though they can be avoided. Before you use your chimney, it is essential to ensure it has been swept recently, inspected to ensure it is in good repair and that sparks and fumes cannot escape though any cracks.   

"Fires can start when the chimney becomes clogged with soot and debris but this can easily be prevented if you make sure your chimney is kept clean and you do not allow soot or ash to build up. If you notice any smoke or are having problems starting a fire it could be a sign that something is wrong. With some simple maintenance, open fires and wood-burning stoves can provide a cosy setting during the winter – but make sure you follow our safety advice."  

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 

To find a certified chimney sweep visit the Institute of Chimney Sweeps website

Get free fire safety advice from Kent Fire and Rescue Service

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