Welcome from the Chief
Autumn has arrived and this month we’re encouraging residents to keep basic fire safety advice in mind before lighting their fires for the first time.
This advice coincides with annual Chimney Safety Week ( 5th – 12th of September), which encourages residents to be mindful of fire safety as temperatures begin to fall.
Most chimney fires are preventable – but our firefighters were called to 172 chimney fires last year.
We did see a reduction in the number of chimney fires we attended compared to the previous year, and it is good to see that the fire safety messages we promoted were effective.
Again, this year we would like to remind the public about the importance of keeping yourself and your family safe by reducing the risk of fires.
The most common causes of chimney fires are inadequately sized or poorly installed appliances, blocked chimneys and the use of wet wood in burners.
There are a number of precautionary measures which can be taken to ensure you and your household are as safe as possible when lighting fires at home.
A good way to begin thinking about your chimney safety is to have your chimney swept by a certified member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps. Infrequent sweeping of chimneys can increase the risk of chimney fires, and can even cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
All chimneys should be swept on a regular basis, and now is the perfect time to do so before the colder winter months set in and you begin to use your fire and chimneys again more regularly.
It costs less than £100 to have your chimney swept so I would urge everyone to arrange this before they light their first fire this autumn.
Regular maintenance of your chimney will depend on the fuel you burn – if you burn oil or gas, your chimney should be swept once a year; bituminous coal, twice a year; wood up to four times a year; and smokeless coals at least once a year. Also, do not burn wet wood.
When considering a heating installation such as a coal or log burner in the home, it is important that you take into account the size of the appliance. An appliance which is too large will never become hot enough to effectively burn all of the fuel within the wood, and unburned fuel will pass up the chimney as smoke, condensing within the flue as extremely flammable creosote.
Finally, to reduce the risk of fire in your home, always make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed and use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
If the worst should happen, a smoke alarm can give you the extra time you need to escape in a house fire – so make sure you test yours regularly.
Spreading the word on student fire safety
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service will be working in partnership with higher education establishments across North Wales during September and October to ensure students are as safe as possible from fires and road traffic collisions.
Staff will be attending ‘Fresher’s Fairs’ events at Bangor University and Glyndŵr, Wrexham to give safety advice to students embarking on their first year of University life.
If you’re starting university or college this month, or if your loved ones are leaving home and you want to make sure they stay safe, our Facebook site is a great source of relevant fire safety information – visit www.facebook/northwalesfireservice and follow our page to keep up to date with safety advice.