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Chimneys & Open Fires


What causes chimney fires?

Chimney fires occur when deposits of soot which have accumulated in a chimney are set alight by flames or sparks from an open fire. Most solid fuels produce some soot which will build up without regular cleaning.


How can chimney fires be avoided?

We recommend that chimneys are cleaned at least twice a year, once at the beginning of the cold weather period and again in the New Year. Do not rely on chemical cleaners; there is no substitute for a sweep's brush.

You should also ensure that wood and turf have dried out adequately before use to reduce the amounts of tarry deposits which these fuels produce when burnt.


Are chimney fires dangerous?

A chimney fire can cause damage to the flue and the blocks of the chimney through which sparks can travel and cause a fire elsewhere in the house.

Burning soot can also fall onto carpets and set them alight.


What should I do if a chimney fire starts?

If you have a Chimney Fire:

  • Place a spark guard in front of the fire to stop hot soot from falling out.
  • Gently pour water over the fire to extinguish it and keep a supply of water nearby.
  • Call the fire brigade.
  • After a chimney fire have the chimney checked by a builder and carry out any necessary repairs


Staying Safe with an Open Fire


  • Always use a spark guard when a fire is left unattended.
  • Always place the spark guard in front of the fire when you are going to bed.
  • If there are children in the room, use a spark guard that you can secure to the fireplace.
  • Never place anything to dry on the sparkguard.
  • Never use an open fire to air clothes as this is a major fire risk.
  • Keep fires small. Don't build them up to where hot coals could roll out onto a carpet.
  • Don’t store magazines, clothing or combustible items near a fire.
  • Do not place a mirror over a fireplace. This attracts people to come  close to the fire where their clothing may catch fire.


The above information is given as advice and should not be regarded as an interpretation of the law on the subject.

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