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Sweep up this September for Chimney Fire Safety Week

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is urging residents to sweep up this September to support Chimney Fire Safety Week (5 – 11 September).

The winter months are fast approaching and having your chimney swept regularly can help protect you and your loved ones. Chimney fires accounted for over 5,000 incidents dealt with by fire and rescue services between April 2014 and March 2015, 61 of which were in Berkshire.

Follow these steps to help keep your home safe from a chimney fire:

  • Ensure your chimney is swept regularly and remind your friends and family to get theirs swept.
  • Keep chimneys, flues and appliances clean and well maintained.
  • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
  • Use the appropriate fuel for your appliance – some appliances will be suitable for wood only, some are multi-fuel – check your appliance instructions.
  • Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks.
  • Avoid ‘slumbering’ an appliance (unless it has been tested as safe to do so). Slumber mode is when an appliance is purposely set at a low or minimum output normally for overnight burning to be revived in the morning without the need for relighting.
  • Never store the fuel next to the appliance.
  • Appliances that have been lined still require regular sweeping. 

Chimneys should be swept according to the type of fuel used, the following advice can help prevent chimney damage, and, in the worst cases, household fires:

  • Smokeless fuels – at least once a year
  • Bituminous coal – at least twice a year
  • Wood – quarterly when in use
  • Oil – once a year
  • Gas – once a year (any work on gas appliances requires a Gas Safe registered installer or engineer)

Iain Harrison, Group Manager for Prevention, said: “To keep you and your family safe from fire you should make sure you have your chimney swept regularly, depending on what fuel you burn, before the colder months set in and you begin to use your fire again. If the worst should happen, working smoke alarms can give you the early warning you need. We encourage all Berkshire residents to test their smoke alarms once a week and have at least one smoke alarm on every level of their home.

“A blocked or defective chimney can also pose the additional risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide which is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ can be deadly as you can’t see it, smell it or taste it but its effects can be fatal so it is very important to employ a professional qualified chimney sweep.” 

Visit, for advice, tips and information on how to find your local registered chimney sweep.