WITH winter officially starting this week, the CFA is urging residents to keep themselves safe by checking and maintaining their fireplaces, chimneys, fireboxes and flues.
Each year, the CFA sees an increase in the number of chimney fires from both fireplaces and wood heaters.
Deputy chief officer Gavin Freeman said over time there could be a build-up of creosote, a black tar-like residue, which is highly flammable and could clog up chimneys.
“Creosote is not only caused by general use, but it can also build up quicker if you are using
incorrect fuels, such as green wood or treated timbers,” he said.
To reduce the risk of fire starting from your fireplace or wood heater you should:
● Use a torch to check for creosote build-up or obstructions
● Have your chimney professionally cleaned annually
● Only burn dry, clean wood
● Extinguish your fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
Mr Freeman said residents should also have gas heaters inspected and serviced every two years to protect loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning or fire.
“Every household should consider their fire-safety practices and examine the potential risks around their home,” he said.
“Cooler weather conditions and the winter months are one of the riskiest times of the year for fires in the home and sadly, most of these fires can be prevented.
“Chimney fires can quickly turn into house fires, so the few minutes spent now could be one of the most important fire-safety actions you take this winter.
“Fireplaces can also be a fire hazard if fuels fall out of the fireplace. A secure guard or fireproof screen should always be used.
“If drying clothes please ensure they are positioned at least one metre away from the heat source and constantly monitored to reduce the chance of them igniting.”
Children must be supervised near all types of heating; always ensure there is safe distance between children and heating.
“One of the nicest things about winter is curling up in front of a warm fire, and with these small tips we can ensure you do this safely,” Mr Freeman said.