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Last week was Chimney Fire Safety Week, which might seem odd timing as we’re experience some of the hottest days on record.

Nevertheless, now is a good time to think about getting ready for autumn and winter. Here at Certainly Wood, we think safety is the number one consideration before enjoying all the benefits having a real fire in your home can bring.

Who is behind Chimney Fire Safety Week?

The concept was created as part of the Government Initiative, Fire Kills, which primarily focuses on home owners and landlords ensuring that their properties are fitted with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Organisations like HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing & Approval Scheme), the governing body for everyone working in the solid fuel industry, as well as the trade media together with chimney sweeps, fire brigades up and down the country and relevant retailers all back the scheme wholeheartedly.

What are the risks of chimney fires?

There are scores of thousands of house fires in the UK every year. Reassuringly, deaths resulting from them are on the decrease. However, 200 people died in house fires in 2015 and that’s 200 too many.

Even if your entire house isn’t burnt down, the damage done by the smoke alone from a chimney fire can be devastating. To give you an idea, we heard about someone who left a candle burning overnight which set fire to a small bookcase. Fortunately, the fire alarm was triggered and they managed to put it out before anything caught fire much beyond the immediate area. However, the damage done by smoke throughout the entire three-story house meant that all the carpets had to be replaced. So imagine if that was a chimney fire.

How do I reduce the risk?

Here are some suggestions on ways to reduce the risk:

Have your chimney swept twice a year.

Now is a good time to consider getting your chimney cleaned as sweeps are in huge demand come November and December - everyone wants a real fire at Christmas. What’s more, you won’t be disturbing any birds who decided to use your chimney as a handy nesting place during spring and summer, as they will have abandoned it by now.

Not only will the sweep get rid of any build ups of tar or soot that are clinging to the inside of your chimney and have the potential to catch fire, they can also check for any structural damage that might cause a problem either now or in the future.

Use The Right Fuel

We’re bound to say this, aren’t we, but you cannot do any better than buying from a HETAS-backed supplier such as ourselves.

Our kiln-dried logs really are the best. By removing a lot of the water content through kiln drying, (to below 20% moisture content) there is far less smoke emitted, which means less soot and tar deposits.

We also source our logs in the UK and know exactly how they’ve been grown. Be wary of imported firewood as it is often not dried sufficiently and anyway, why would you want to buy firewood from eastern Europe – not very envrironmentally friendly!

Using natural, firelighter such as our Flamers is far better than say newspaper which has a tendancy to float up and could cause problems up the chimney. It can also help to reduce deposits in your chimney too.

Take Safety Precautions

  • Make sure you have fire alarms in every room if possible and a carbon monoxide alarm in the room where you have your fire or stove
  • Always use a guard in front of an open fire and never leave the doors of a solid fuel stove open if you’re not in the room
  • Don’t use your fire to burn paper or other rubbish
  • Don’t stoke it up with too much fuel
  • Keep your hearth clear when you have your fire going – ornaments and other items should be at least three feet away
  • Always make sure the fire is out before you go to bed or leave the house

We’re not trying to scare monger here, but fire needs to be treated with respect to make sure you stay in control and it never takes control of you.