Chimney safety

Keep safe and warm this winter

With fireplace and wood burner usage expected to increase in response to the rising cost of heating homes this winter, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) share their advice on reducing the risk of fire incidents.

A recent social media poll carried out by SFRS revealed that 93.5% of those surveyed are seeking ways to reduce their energy bills this winter and 26% said they struggle to pay bills at their current levels. From a series of possible heating alternatives, 51% stated that they would consider using a fireplace or wood burner instead of conventional heating.

Remember the basics

We can all take simple steps to prevent fires. The most important thing which you can do as a homeowner is to never leave your fireplace or stove unattended when burning, and always ensure you use a spark guard. This will help to keep your home, children, and pets safe.

Always ensure your fire is completely out before you leave the house or go to bed.

Another essential step if using a fuel burning appliances is to install a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms of your home. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and poisonous gas.

Regularly clean your chimney

Timber, construction waste or even leaves can get stuck in your chimney which could cause a serious fire. The national guidance recommends that chimneys are cleaned at least once a year, and for those burning wood fuel, every six months.

The regularity is based on the type of fuel being used:

  • Smokeless Fuels/Bituminous Coal: at least once a year
  • Wood: quarterly when in use
  • Oil: once a year
  • Gas: once a year (refer to the Gas Safe Register)

Use a trusted chimney sweep

We recommend that chimney sweeping is carried out by a trusted trader. You can find one through the HETAS Chimney Sweep Search web page.

Store fuels safely

Be mindful of what you store by your fireplace or stove. Fuels should be stored separately to reduce fire loading and prevent an accidental and unwanted fire starting and spreading in your home. You should have at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home, in case of a fire incident.

Ready to Burn fuels

Ready to Burn legislation was introduced in May 2021 to ban the sale of the most polluting fuels in homes.

The Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS) provide Ready to Burn Certification Marks on approved fuels. The Ready to Burn certification means that wood has been certified for immediate use, and it also burns better as it has a moisture content of less than 20%. The same certifications also apply to solid fuels such as coal or petroleum-based products.

You can find out more about the scheme on the Ready to Burn scheme web page or find a quality assured supplier on the Woodsure Find a Supplier tool web page.

Need help with saving safely?

If you are looking for ways to save, there is information available online on the Cost of Living Financial Support web page or through the community helpline 0300 200 1008.

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