How to Avoid a Chimney Fire

How to Avoid a Chimney Fire


As the nights grow colder and darker, the fires will soon be on a lot more. With this comes a risk of chimney fires.


Here is some advice on How to Avoid a Chimney Fire.




Why does my Chimney go on fire?

Chimney fires occur when deposits of carbon and dust accumulate in a chimney and are set alight by sparks or flames from an open fire.  Most solid fuels create some kind of soot which without regular cleaning of chimneys builds up in the flue and eventually catches fire.  Ensure that wood and turf have dried out adequately before use.  This will reduce the amounts of tarry deposits which these fuels produce when burnt.

How to Avoid a Chimney Fire:

Regular cleaning is the most common way to avoid a chimney fire.  Chimneys should be cleaned twice a year, ideally at the beginning of the cold weather period i.e., after the Summer /Autumn, to clear the chimney of anything which may have accumulated i.e. bird’s nests, twigs, leaves and also to remove soot. Chimneys should also be swept mid-way through the Winter to ensure a fire does not occur.  The more often a fire is lit, the more frequently it should be cleaned.  Do not rely on chemical blocks to clean a chimney.  The sweeps’ brush is the tried and tested method!

The Fire Brigade and Chimney Fires

Many people incorrectly see the Fire brigade as a chimney cleaning service without perhaps realising that damage is being caused to flues with each fire that occurs.  Almost half of all fires attended by Fire Brigades are chimney fires.  Some Local Authorities have instituted charges to attend these fires, therefore it is in your interest to ensure that your chimney is swept regularly.

Are Chimney Fires dangerous?

Yes, chimney fires are particularly dangerous in that they can structurally weaken the flue liner and chimney block. As a result, cracks may develop allowing sparks to enter and cause fire and smoke damage throughout the house.  Burning soot and particles may also fall onto floors, carpets etc., causing them to set alight further increasing the damage.

What do I do if a fire starts?

Don’t panic! Place a spark guard in front of the fire to stop hot soot falling out.  Pour water over the fire to extinguish it and keep a supply of water available, should it be needed.  Phone for the Fire Brigade and keep a watchful eye on the fire until they arrive.

Other safety hints regarding open fires:

  1. Keep a spark guard in front of open fires when the room is unoccupied.
  2. Secure a spark guard to the fireplace if children are in the room and never leave them alone with an open fire or with matches.
  3. Keep fires small; avoid banking them up too high where hot coals may tumble out onto carpeting.
  4. Avoid placing mirrors over fireplaces as this attracts people, especially children, to come too close to the fire where their clothing may catch fire.