WEST Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is reminding residents to ensure their chimney is fire-safe by booking a registered chimney sweep.
The fire service has teamed up with the National Association of Chimney Sweeps and The Guild of Master Sweeps for Chimney Fire Safety Week (on until Saturday, July 30).
Community fire safety officer Jackie Boyle said: “An open fire is ideal for keeping warm in the winter, but without proper maintenance a chimney can be become dangerous.
“The latest statistics show that there are approximately 6,000 chimney fires a year in England and most of them are preventable.
“To keep yourself and your family safe from fire you should take care to have your chimney swept regularly, depending upon what fuel you burn, before the colder winter months set in and you begin to use your fire and chimneys again.
“If the worst should happen a smoke alarm can give you the extra time you need to escape in a house fire – make sure you test yours regularly.”
The fire service has issued the following guidelines to help people stay safe:
. Have your chimney swept at least once a year, twice a year if burning wood.
. When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only.
. Build smaller, hotter fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
. Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper.
. Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.
. Do not overload the grate or appliance.
. Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.
. Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure it is sound and the sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.
. Ensure the fire is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house.
. Make sure wood burners and other fire appliances are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
. Make sure your smoke alarm is working properly, early detection can save lives.
Anyone who would like to find their local chimney sweep can contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on free phone 0800 833464 or www.nacs.org.uk
Fire safety advice is free to access from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s Community Safety Team on 01243 642878 or www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire