Chimney fires cause concern

A CHIMNEY fire in Southwick was one of nine dealt with by West Sussex firefighters over the weekend.

Chimney fires can be devastating, West Sussex Fire and Rescue warns
Chimney fires can be devastating, West Sussex Fire and Rescue warns

Shoreham firefighters attended the mid-terraced house, in Albert Street, just before 6pm on Saturday.

They used chimney equipment, ladders and a thermal imaging camera to tackle the fire and remained at the scene until just before 8.30pm.

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A rise in chimney fires across the county sparked a safety warning from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service this morning.

Since Friday, firefighters have been called to nine separate chimney fires. In all cases, the crews were able to put out the blazes quickly and prevent them from spreading, but chimney fires can be devastating.

Chimney fires are one of the most frequent incidents attended by the fire service. During 2013, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service attended 220 chimney fires across the county.

Jackie Boyle, 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 – that early warning to a fire really is a lifesaver and means damage to your property can hopefully be kept to a minimum.”

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service 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 a chimney sweep, contact the National Association of Chimney Sweeps on freephone 0800 833464 or

Fire safety advice is free and easy to access from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, call 01243 642879 or visit