Firefighters warn of chimney fire increase

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A rise in chimney fires across the county has sparked a safety warning from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS).

Firefighters have been called to nine separate chimney fires in Amberley, Rudgwick, Crawley, Southwick, Storrington, East Preston, South Harting, East Grinstead and Bepton since Friday (February 7-9).

WSFRS said crews were extinguished the blazes quickly and prevent them from spreading.

Firefighters attended 220 chimney fires across the county during 2013 (January 1 - December 31).

Jackie Boyle, WSFRS community fire safety officer, 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.”

WSFRS 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

Fire safety advice is free and easy to access from WSFRS. Call 01243 642879 or visit