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Chimney Safety Advice

18th April 2011

Following a series of chimney fires across the Malton area, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) would like to issue some fire safety advice for local residents.

Usually, chimney fires present little risk to homes, but on rare occasions they can start fires in roof spaces which can quickly spread and if left unattended they could develop into a serious property fire. We would therefore urge residents to follow some simple advice that could prevent a chimney fire, or related fire, starting.

“Chimney fires often start due to poor maintenance, with a build up of soot and tar going unnoticed until the cold weather arrives. You can greatly reduce the risk of having a fire by ensuring that chimneys are swept on a regular basis. We would also like people to remember store solid fuel such as wood or coal well away from their chimney system. This fuel can heat and ignite if left too close to systems such as solid fuel burning stoves, causing a potentially serious fire.”

Advice to Households

Regular sweeping and maintenance of chimneys and flues eliminates the build up of soot from coal, wood, oil and gas fired systems. It also clears obstructions such as bird and animal nests, leaves and debris.

  • Chimneys using smokeless fuel should be swept at least once a year.
  • Chimneys using bituminous coal should be swept at least once a year.
  • Chimneys using wood should be swept quarterly, when in use.
  • Chimneys using oil should be swept at least once a year.
  • Chimneys using gas should be swept at least once a year.
  • Flues and the ventilation for flues and chimneys should be inspected at least once a year.
  • Check the roof space regularly, when a fire is lit, to ensure that smoke is not leaking into the roof space.

Carbon monoxide, known as the ‘silent killer’, is present when fuel is burnt on an open fire, or in a gas appliance. Tragically, every year, people lose their lives to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Regular cleaning of chimneys and flues reduces the risk of dangerous fumes entering the home.

Chimneys should be swept by a competent contractor to BS6461. For details contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on freephone 0800 833464 or visit

The Fire and Rescue Service offers free Home Fire Risk Checks, where staff will fit smoke alarms and give advice on fire safety.

For more information, visit or call the Fire Safety Hotline on 01609 788545.

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