Chimney aware - are your flues furred up?

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Firefighters have issued a Chimney Fire Safety Week message urging householders to help prevent potentially devastating fires.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews deal with more than a thousand chimney fires each year but having a certified sweep clear the flue makes disaster much less likely to strike. Many people who live in homes with open fires fail to realise the importance of properly maintaining chimneys.

Assistant Chief Officer David McGown, the SFRS director of prevention and protection, explained: “Soot and fuel residues slowly build up over time and these leftovers can catch fire.

“This could send burning soot into the living room or start a fire that takes hold within the roof or on other floors of the house. Even if it doesn’t burn the house down, a chimney fire can leave a huge mess. Making sure a chimney is professionally swept and checked can significantly reduce the chance of a fire happening.”

The type of fuel burned in a fire determines how often the chimney should be swept. Where smokeless coals are burned the chimney should be swept at least once each year, while fires burning bituminous coal or peat need to have the chimney swept twice per year. A chimney serving a fire where wood is burned should be swept quarterly when it is in use.

Mr McGown added: “We would strongly discourage people from burning wet wood as it can cause a build-up in the flue and ultimately a chimney fire. Flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin should never be used to light a fire, things like paper or rubbish should not be burned in the grate and it’s also important the fire isn’t overloaded.”

Free home fire safety visits are available throughout Scotland if anyone thinks they, or someone they know, could benefit from the advice and support of local firefighters. The short visits can be arranged by calling the freephone number 0800 073 1999, by texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or by filling in a form at www.firescotland.gov.uk.