FIREFIGHTERS in South Yorkshire are calling for homeowners to start the new year by getting their chimneys swept – to reduce the number of blazes they are called out to.
The latest figures available show that between January 2010 and the end of December last year there were 98 chimney fires in the county, including seven last month alone.
And between 2005 and 2009 there were 283 chimney fires across the county.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue is running a ‘safe and warm’ campaign, urging people to heat their homes safely over the winter – and one of the key messages they are promoting is the need for chimneys to be swept regularly.
The advice is for chimneys from fires fuelled by oil, gas and smokeless coal to be cleaned once a year. Chimneys where bituminous coal is burned should be swept twice a year and when wood is burned chimneys should be cleared four times a year.
Chimney sweeps and identical twins Ian and Geoff Cheetham, owners of Eckington-based I&G Chimney Sweep Services, are backing the safety campaign.
Ian, a member of the Institute of Chimney Sweeps, said: “All chimneys and flue-ways should be cleaned and checked regularly to ensure they’re free from debris and in full working order before the next cold spell.
“A blocked or defective chimney can cause both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisonings so it’s very important to employ a professional qualified chimney sweep.”
Diane Malpass, head of community safety for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “An open fire is ideal to keep warm in the winter, but without proper maintenance a chimney can become dangerous.
“The latest statistics show there are approximately 6,000 chimney fires a year in England, of which more than 70 occur in South Yorkshire, but most are preventable.
“To keep yourself and your family safe from fire you should take care to have your chimney swept regularly.”