Fire service urges homeowners to be prepared as autumn approaches

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: CFRS

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: CFRS - Credit: Archant

Many of the 55 chimney fires Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) were called out to last year could have been avoided if householders took simple precautions like regular sweeping, firefighters have said.

They are urging people to make sure their chimneys are safe following on from National Chimney Fire Safety Week and want to raise awareness of safe chimney and log burner use, including the importance of regular chimney sweeping and the use of the correct fuel.

CFRS said that although chimney fires had decreased steadily in most regions, it still had to tackle more than 50 last year with many taking place in the early part of the year.

Group commander Paul Clarke, head of community fire safety, said: "While we might be enjoying the warm weather now, it won't be long before the cold weather draws in and people will begin to start using open fires and their chimneys again.

"Of the 55 chimney fires we went to in the last year, many of these could have been prevented.

"In order to keep you and your family safe from fire, and reducing the risk of serious damage to your home, it's really important that you take the necessary steps to look after your chimney, making sure it's well maintained and swept regularly."

He added: "It's also vitally important that you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. They are the single most important thing you need in your home - it will alert you to a fire and give you precious minutes to escape to safety."

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CFRS said the number of people using open fires was increasing and it was essential that they were used safely.

Its safety tips included using a skilled chimney engineer, keeping flues clear and well maintained, ensuring appliances were safe and that masonry chimneys were mechanically and structurally sound.

It said a fire should not be allowed to "slumber" overnight, to always use a fireguard to protect against flying sparks, to make sure embers were put out before going to bed and before buying a property check to see if there was a history for maintenance of the chimney and equipment

CFRS said chimneys should be swept by a competent contractor and a list of local HETAS approved chimney sweeps could be found at

The fire and rescue service also offers free safe and well visits for local residents to provide advice on areas including fire safety, falls prevention and staying well at home.

More information is available from 01480 444500 or