From Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service HQ, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO50 9SJ
Tel: 023 8064 4000
As a member of Hampshire’s Fire Authority, I am writing to raise your awareness of the devastation which may be caused by chimney fires within the home and to share some useful safety information for communities, as we go through the winter months..
In recent years we in Hampshire have seen many fires in homes which started in chimneys. Whilst we continue to successfully reduce the number of fires across Hampshire, recent years have seen an increase in chimney fires.
There are some specific actions that home owners can take to prevent these fires and I would ask that you bring to the attention of residents within your area:
- Chimneys should be examined regularly. Fire can spread from within the chimney through worn brick jointing
- Chimneys should be lined, especially in older properties and definitely in ALL thatch properties
- Chimneys should be swept at the start of the burning season and then:
- Once per year for smokeless fuel and oil
- Twice a year for coal fires
- Every three months for wood burning fires
- Burning unseasoned wood will create greater soot and tar build up and should not be used or chimneys swept more often
We saw some devastating fires in thatch cottages last year. All of these fires are believed to have started within chimneys. Please encourage residents living in thatch buildings to have their chimney inspected by a qualified professional and always follow the guidance above.
For more information on chimney safety please go to http://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/yoursafety/athome/preventionathome/chimneyfires.htm
In all cases, householders should follow the basic principles of keeping safe from fire within the home. This includes:
- Always having working smoke detectors within the home – one on each level as a minimum;
- Think about and practise an emergency evacuation plan and ensure everyone within the house knows what to do in a fire;
- Reduce fire hazards within the home, such as ensuring all electrical equipment is in good order and sockets not overloaded, naked flames such as fires and candles are extinguished fully before going to bed and smoking is done in a safe place – discarding used cigarettes in a safe place.
More home safety information is available at http://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/yoursafety/athome/preventionathome.htm
As the weather turns colder for the winter, please do also ensure you and your community are prepared. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service leads the work of the Hampshire and IOW Local Resilience Forum in preparing for emergencies. The following web page has more information how you can help your local community plan for emergencies including the colder weather http://www3.hants.gov.uk/localresilienceforum.htm. In all cases please ensure the elderly and those more vulnerable to the cold and adverse weather are considered by the community.
Please help us to keep our local communities safe this winter.