Thatch and chimney fire safety warning

SAFETY chiefs are today warning Suffolk homeowners to be on their guard against fire. Suffolk County Council's Fire and Rescue Service is warning homeowners of the dangers of chimney and thatch fires across the county.

SAFETY chiefs are today warning Suffolk homeowners to be on their guard against fire.

Suffolk County Council's Fire and Rescue Service is warning homeowners of the dangers of chimney and thatch fires across the county.

A council spokesman said: “As many of us across the county are choosing real fires and wood burning stoves in the face of rising fuel prices, safety chiefs are warning homeowners that without sufficient care and attention it could become a costly mistake.”

The message comes just days after fire ripped through a thatch cottage in Lidgate, near Newmarket, and destroyed a home in Grundisburgh.

The spokesman added: “Chimney fires are one of the most common types of fires in homes and can easily spread especially in thatched cottages.

“Each year, the fire and rescue service is called to more than one hundred chimney fires and other property fires that have spread from unsafe chimneys and flues.”

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Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gary Philips said: “With colder weather at this time of year and the Christmas period fast approaching there is nothing more inviting than an open fire, especially in a cottage.

“However, you are more at risk from chimney fires, especially if they have not been swept or maintained during the year.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family is to follow the safety checklist before you light a fire and regularly maintain the chimney.

“Fire destroys lives and homes. The recent house fires in the county are devastating for homeowners, especially at this time of year as Christmas approaches.

“Remember, everyone should have a working smoke alarm and check it once a week. While out doing your Christmas shopping, remember to buy some spare batteries for your smoke alarm too.”

Have you been affected by rising fuel prices? Do you have a real fire? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Weblink www.suffolkcc.gov.uk/fire_service/

SUFFOLK County Council today issued safety tips to reduce the risk of fire.

Never light fires using flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin

Do not burn paper or rubbish in fireplaces

Do not overload fires with fuel

Use a fire guard to prevent embers setting fire to furnishings or carpets

Occasionally check the chimney in the loft when the fire is alight. Check for smoke from cracks or defective brickwork or mortar joints.

Make sure chimneys are swept, this helps to prevent fires and reduce the risk of fumes from blocked heating appliances, flueways and chimneys. Regular cleaning and maintenance eliminates the build-up of soot. It also clears obstructions such as birds nests, leaves and debris.

Chimneys using coal or smokeless fuel or coal should be swept at least once a year and those using wood should be swept quarterly, when in use.

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