On a cold winter night it’s nice to settle down in front of a wood fire. But if that wood fire isn’t being properly maintained it could change from being an indulgence to a life threatening danger.
Chimney fires are caused by the accumulation of creosote and other products of incomplete combustion in the chimney. Over a period of months these products build up in the chimney as a coating and when subjected to strong heat from the fire ignite in the chimney with a real potential to start a fire in the roof.
There is a danger that these fires, burning in the roof space above smoke alarms, or in wall cavity’s, can go undetected until they are substantial, life threatening, fires.
Minimising the risk of chimney fires is simple. Each April, or before you intend to start using the fire, clean the chimney. You may also do an additional cleaning in mid-winter to be extra sure that you won’t have to face a chimney fire. You may be able to do this yourself if you can safely work on the roof and have a suitable chimney brush. If not there are professional chimney cleaners who can clean your chimney and check their integrity.
It’s also worth checking the roof space to make sure that there is nothing flammable close to the chimney. Chimney fires aren’t limited to houses. They can occur in commercial premises including hotels and guest houses. Indeed any premises with wood fires have the potential for chimney fires.
When you go to bed tonight are you sure that your wood fire won’t lead to a chimney fire? Have you taken care to make sure that your chimney has been cleaned to minimise the risk of fire? Have you taken a minute to smell for smoke or the smell of very hot metal? Do you have working smoke alarms?
Chimney fires are avoidable. Regularly cleaned and serviced chimneys and working smoke alarms could save your family’s lives.
For a home fire safety checklist visit: cfa.vic.gov.au/homefire