Warning after spate of chimney fires

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has released a safety warning after a series of chimney fires across the county, including one in Crawley.

Over the weekend (Friday 7 to February 9) firefighters have been called to nine separate chimney fires in Amberley, Rudgwick, Crawley, Southwick, Storrington, East Preston, South Harting, East Grinstead and Bepton. The one in Crawley was in Jackdaw Close, Langley Green, at 9.18pm on Saturday.

Crews were able to extinguish the blazes quickly and prevent them from spreading but chimney fires can be devastating.

Chimney fires are one of the most frequent incidents attended by the Fire Service. During 2013 West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service attended 220 chimney fires across the county.

Jackie Boyle, Community Fire Safety Officer for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We all know the weather has been miserable of late so it’s only natural that people are turning to open fires to keep warm and cosy, but if basic safety precautions aren’t followed they can become a serious fire hazard.

“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 each year.

“Of course, you should also make sure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home - that early warning to a fire really is a lifesaver and means damage to your property can hopefully be kept to a minimum.”

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service offers the following advice:

- Have your chimney swept at least once a year, twice a year if burning wood.

- When burning wood, use dry, seasoned woods only.

- Build smaller, hotter fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.

- Never burn cardboard boxes or waste paper.

- Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire.

- Do not overload the grate or appliance.

- Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires.

- Ensure the fire is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house.

- Make sure wood burners and other fire appliances are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

To find your local chimney sweep, contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on freephone 0800 833464 or www.nacs.org.uk

Fire safety advice is free and easy to access from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service call 01243 642879 or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire