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Take action against chimney fires

Households with woodburning and multifuel stoves and fires are being urged to have their chimneys swept ahead of this year’s heating season, to reduce the risk of chimney fires.

With England recording 3,105 chimney fires in 2020/2021, this is one of three simple steps the public are being encouraged to follow as part of Chimney Fire Safety Week (30 August – 5 September).

The latest fire statistics show that chimney fires in England have fallen by as much as 66% over the last decade but a significant number still occur every year. Now, independent industry organisation HETAS, which accredits qualified chimney sweeps and installers, is urging homeowners to invest in proper chimney maintenance to help prevent more of these often-devastating and avoidable incidents.

As the non-profit industry organisation committed to ever better practice in the use of biomass and other solid fuels, HETAS is reminding people that regular maintenance is critical to helping to reduce the risk of fire, and strongly recommends that a chimney should be swept at least twice a year when burning wood. 

This is one of three key steps recommended to keep our homes and health safe when using woodburning and multifuel stoves or fires:

1. Have your chimney swept by a registered qualified HETAS Approved Chimney Sweep

2. Ensure your appliance is correctly installed and regularly maintained by having an annual service with a qualified HETAS Registered professional

3. Using Ready to Burn certified wood fuel or Manufactured Solid Fuels (MSF) is now a legal requirement. Ready to Burn certified or properly seasoned wood with no more than 20% moisture content burns more efficiently reducing the build-up of soot; Ready to Burn certified Manufactured Solid Fuels (MSF) are proven to meet verified emissions and sulphur content standards. For more information visit: https://www.readytoburn.org/wpcontent/uploads/2021/02/RtBgenLeaflet090221FINAL.pdf

Bruce Allen, chief executive of HETAS, said: “Over the past decade the number of chimney fires has dropped by two-thirds and although numbers continue to fall year-on-year, the toll is still too high. It’s really important that we continue to help people to find and use qualified professionals for sweeping and maintenance, and also to find the right fuels, so they can keep using their appliances efficiently, safely and responsibly.

“Chimney fires might represent less than 2% of total fires but they can be absolutely devastating. However, the good news is that if people take the appropriate action such incidents are totally avoidable. We believe that informing homeowners about the importance of sweeping and maintenance, is the key to reducing the risk of chimney fires even further. With the weather changing and the nights beginning to draw in, now is the perfect time to have chimneys checked by a HETAS Approved Chimney Sweep.”

HETAS operates a chimney sweeps’ approval scheme that ensures all approved sweeps are trained and experienced in their work. Working closely with chimney sweep trade organisations and independent sweeps, HETAS provides an online searchable list helping the public to work with professionals proven to meet the highest standards. 

1 September 2021

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