There were more than 1,670 chimney fires in Northern Ireland last year, figures have revealed, as the Fire Service warns of the importance of keeping chimneys swept and clean.
The number of incidents rose since 2011, accounting for almost seven per cent of all fires attended by officers last year.
To mark Chimney Fire Safety Week the Northern Ireland Fire Service is urging householders to ensure their chimneys are kept clean to avoid the risk of a blaze.
Kevin O’Neill, Group Commander, NIFRS, said: “With the colder, winter months looming, people will begin to start using open fires and their chimneys again and in order to keep you and your family safe from fire, we are urging anyone who plans to light their fire this autumn and winter to be ‘fire safe’ and have the flue swept first. The cost of a chimney sweep, once a year, is very small when compared to dealing with the damage and cost of repair after a chimney fire not to mention the potential threat to life if the chimney fire were to spread to the rest of the property.
“With the rising cost of home heating, open fires are becoming an increasingly common way to save money but we are encouraging people not to make cut backs when it comes to their fire safety. All chimney fires have the potential to be extremely dangerous, however with regular inspection and cleaning of the chimney flue, the chances of a fire can be greatly reduced.
“A clean chimney flue creates a clear and safe passage, lowering the risk of the chimney catching fire. Sweeping will also mean that objects such as nests, cobwebs and loose brickwork are cleared, which also helps minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Also ensure that you have working smoke alarms in your home and if you think you have a chimney fire call 999 immediately and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service.”
To find a certified chimney sweep visit the Northern Ireland Association of Chimney Sweeps at www.niacs.co.uk.