Last updated:
8 November 2017

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Have your chimney swept regularly to prevent a fire.

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has attended over 125 chimney fires in the last year. We recommend that you have your chimneys swept to prevent fires from breaking out.

How often chimneys should be swept

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

Always get your chimney 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.

Remember - keep your chimneys clean!

What else you can do

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

If a chimney fire occurs

  • 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 if you have a chimney fire.

If you have time, you can help prevent the fire spreading:

  • 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.


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