Chimney Fires

Make a Clean Sweep of It!

Chimney fires in Cornwall

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Over the last three years Cornwall firefighters have tackled 571 chimney fires, where most of the fires were preventable. Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help prevent fires within chimneys.

We have also attended incidents which highlight the dangers of a blocked central heating flue where people have suffered from the effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. This can happen with any fossil fuel system (which includes both the appliance and the flue) if it is faulty or the room is not properly ventilated.

Regular inspection and cleaning of chimney flues will help prevent fires within chimneys.

We are urging anyone who plans to light their fire this winter to get it swept first. The cost of a chimney sweep is very small (from approximately £30) when compared to dealing with the damage and cost of repair from a fire.

Simple tips to greatly reduce your chances of having a fire in your chimney:

  • Sweep the chimney before use
  • Ensure a fireguard is in front of the fire at all times
  • Sparkguards can prevent a serious property fire
  • Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and check it works regularly!

We recommend the following simple maintenance routines:

  • Solid Fuel Fires - Once a year for smokeless fuel; twice a year for coal
  • Wood Burning Fires - 4 times a year when in use
  • Gas Fires - Once a year if designed for sweeping
  • Oil Fires - Once a year 

Read our chimney fire safety leaflet

  • Dial 999 and ask for the Fire Service. It will help if someone can wait outside to meet them.
  • If you have a conventional open fire, extinguish the fire by gently splashing water onto the open fire.
  • 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 sparkguard in front of the fire.
  • Feel the chimney breast in other rooms for signs of heat.
  • If a wall is becoming hot, move furniture away.
  • Ensure 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.

Always call the Fire and Rescue Service for a chimney fire - it has the ability to destroy your home.

Without proper maintenance, any flue from a fire or stove can cause a dangerous build up of carbon monoxide gas. A carbon monoxide detector will help protect you from this risk. Visit our safety page on Carbon Monoxide for more information.

Other information:

If you would like free advice on chimney fire safety, contact our freephone community fire safety helpline on 0800 3581 999.

You can also register online for a Free Home Fire Safety Check or by calling the above number.