Fire service issues warning to maintain chimneys

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Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued advice about chimney maintenance during the winter.

Its appeal follows reports of heating oil shortages which have caused homeowners to start using open fires that previously have not been used.

They have warned that this brings the added dangers of chimney fires - if the chimney has not been maintained or swept.

Tips to avoid chimney fires include sweeping chimneys before use if they haven't been used for some time; ensuring a fireguard is in front of the fire at all time; extinguishing fires before going to bed or leaving the house; and never using petrol or paraffin to light a fire.

A spokesman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue offered advice to homeowners.

He said: 'Most chimney fires are preventable, and regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help prevent them.

'We recommend sweeping most chimneys at least once a year, and in the case of solid fuel and wood burning appliances, every three to six months.'

In the event of a chimney fire he advised people to dial 999 and ask for the fire service.

The spokesman added: 'If you have a conventional open fire, extinguish the fire by gently splashing water on to the open fire.

'If you have a solid fuel appliance, close down the ventilation as much as possible.'