Chimney fires have risen across West Sussex over the past year, the fire service has announced.
In figures released by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, crews extinguished 144 chimney fires across the county in 2015.
Of this total 13 were reported across the Crawley area.
In a break-down of the figures crews attended four chimney fires in Crawley, six in Turners Hill and three in East Grinstead.
Most incidents were reported in January and February and with temperatures predicted to plummet next week firefighters are urging people to ensure their chimney is ready for colder weather.
Jackie Boyle, WSFRS community fire safety manager, said: “The weather is predicted to turn considerably colder and we know people are turning to open fires - just last night our crews were called to two separate chimney fires. Thankfully, both were contained quickly, but they can be devastating.
“The best piece of advice we can give to anyone planning to light a fire is to make sure they get their chimney checked and swept.
“A blocked or defective chimney can cause both chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning so we’d recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector if you’re burning solid fuel.
“You should also make sure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home - early detection saves lives.”
Crews have released the following advice on how to prevent chimney fires:
•Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
•Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks and hot embers
•Ensure the fire is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house
•When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only
•Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire
•Do not overload the grate or appliance
•Make sure wood burners and other fire appliances are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
Regular maintenance of your chimney will depend on the fuel you burn:
•Smokeless coals - At least once a year
•Wood - Up to four times a year
•Bituminous coal - Twice a year
•Oil - Once a year
•Gas - Once a year
To find a certified Chimney Sweep or for more information on chimney fire safety visit www.nacs.org.uk, www.instituteofchimneysweeps.com/find.php, or www.hetas.co.uk.
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