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Have your chimney swept regularly to prevent a fire.

Between 2019/2020, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service attended 63 chimney fires within West Sussex. We recommend you have your chimney swept to help prevent a fire in your home.

How often should flues be swept?

This depends on the type of appliance you have. The appliances listed below should have their flues swept in accordance with the guidelines shown.

  • Solid fuel appliances: Once a year for smokeless fuel and twice a year for coal
  • Wood-burning appliances: Quarterly when in use
  • Gas appliances: Once a year if designed for sweeping
  • Oil fired appliances: Once a year

The chimney or flue must be properly swept and cleaned to help prevent a fire breaking out. It is not sufficient to clean a chimney using a vacuum cleaner!

Always get the flue inspected by a competent person to prevent chimney fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and possible structural damage. The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, HETAS and the National Association of Chimney Sweeps have a network of sweeps throughout the country. All members are fully insured and work to a code of practice.

Other safety precautions

  • Use fire or spark guards.
  • Always extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Never block air bricks, vents or flues.
  • Always fit a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Always fit a smoke alarm - it could save your life!

In the event of a chimney fire 

  • Leave the room, close the door and alert other people in the house.
  • Dial 999 and ask for the Fire Service (there is no charge).

Chimney fires can spread to the rest of your property so always call the Fire Service in the event of a chimney fire.

If you have time you can help prevent the fire spreading by following the guidance below:

  • If you have a conventional open fire, extinguish the fire by gently splashing water onto it.
  • If you have a solid fuel appliance, close down the ventilation as much as possible.
  • Move furniture and rugs away from the fireplace and remove any nearby ornaments.
  • Place a spark guard in front of the fire.
  • Feel the chimney breast in other rooms for signs of heat.
  • Make sure that access to your attic or roof space is available for the Fire Service as they will want to thoroughly check this area for signs of possible fire spread.

For more fire safety advice contact West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.  More information is also available on our Fire safety booklets page.

Last updated:
21 June 2022
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