PEOPLE are being reminded to keep chimneys clear to prevent fires.
In 2011/12, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service recorded 260 chimney fires in the county.
Today marks the start of Chimney Fire Safety Week, and the fire service has teamed up with the National Association of Chimney Sweeps and HETAS, to stress safety as the colder weather is due to set in.
The service gives these tips:
· Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
· Make sure embers are properly put out before going to bed.
· Keep chimneys and flues clean and well-maintained.
Jim Clarke, station manager for the fire service, said: ‘With the colder, winter months looming, people will begin to start using open fires and their chimneys again.
‘In order to keep you and your family safe from fire, you need to take necessary steps such as ensuring your chimney is swept regularly.
‘The frequency will depend upon the type of fuel you burn.
‘Remember that if an open fire is used for an extended period – perhaps into late spring and summer – an additional sweep may be necessary.’
People burning smokeless coals should look at sweeps at least once a year, wood up to four times a year, bituminous coal twice a year and oil and gas once a year.
Station manager Clarke added: ‘Many fires were fortunately confined to the chimney, but these fires can spread and lead to a much more serious blaze.’
‘Through regular maintenance most chimney fires are preventable.
‘I would also urge all householders to have a working smoke alarm in their home.’
For further information on chimney fire safety, visit your nearest fire station.
Or people can call the community safety team on 02380 626809.