FIREFIGHTERS are reminding people of the danger that could be lurking inside their chimneys and urging them to have them professionally swept.
Fire crews are issuing the warning as part of Chimney Fire Safety Week after recording an increase in the number of fires.
West Sussex firefighters were called to put out 144 chimney fires in homes and businesses last year – an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year.
Some of the properties were left uninhabitable because of the blaze.
Jackie Boyle, community fire safety manager for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘Chimneys that have not been used during the spring and summer months could become blocked or unsafe and people certainly shouldn’t be complacent about the risk.
‘Chimney fires are one of the most commonly occurring incidents that our crews attend.
‘Don’t let getting your chimney swept be one of those jobs you leave until it’s too late. The cost of a professional sweep is certainly a lot less than being left to count the cost of a fire in your home or business.’
Safety advice includes using a fire guard to protect against flying sparks.