Got a chimney or woodburner? Sweep it and clean it, before you light it

With the nights drawing in for autumn and winter, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is asking homeowners as part of Chimney Fire Safety Week 2019 (2 – 8 September) to get their chimneys swept by an approved sweep.

During the last 10 years, HWFRS has dealt with 1,831 chimney fires, an average of 183 fires per year and 15 per month.

While the positive news is that there is a downward trend – the number of fires in 2018-19 was 112, a reduction of 55.90% on 2009-10 – there is still plenty of work to do to reduce the numbers still further.

This year’s Chimney Fire Safety Week, as part of the Government’s Fire Kills campaign, is calling for homeowners to clean up their act. Neglect of chimney maintenance is the most common cause of chimney fires so the advice to householders is to get their chimneys swept by a registered sweep to prevent chimney damage, and, in worse cases, household fires.

Having your chimney swept regularly can prevent chimney fires, and all it takes is one phone call (to a registered sweep), one modest payment and one hour of your time.

To keep you and your family safe from fire:

  • Always use a fireguard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers
  • Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed
  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
  • Never burn rubbish
  • Never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin to light your fire

Station Commander Amy Bailey from HWFR’s Community Risk department said: “To keep you and your family safe from fire you should make sure you have your chimney swept regularly, depending on what fuel you burn, before the colder months set in and you begin to use your fire again.”

Station Commander Bailey continued: “A stove or open fire can be an ideal and pleasant way to keep warm in the winter, but without proper maintenance, a chimney can become dangerous.”

She urged people to make an appointment now with a registered chimney sweep if their chimney is due a clean. Further chimney safety advice and full details of chimney sweeps operating locally are listed on the Service’s website at under the Safety and Advice heading.


In order to get the best out of your appliance, it should be swept and serviced regularly. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Removes soot deposits and other obstructions to allow safe passage for dangerous gases to leave your property safely and efficiently
  • Advise on the condition of your chimney and any possible actions which need to be undertaken
  • Ensures that everything on the appliance itself is in good order and nothing is inhibiting its performance

Far from being a thing of the past, getting your chimney swept regularly is essential. Some believe that if you have a liner, your chimney does not need to be swept. That is incorrect. In fact, every chimney which is in use for solid fuel, gas or oil combustion should be swept regularly.

The standard advice is:
Smokeless fuel: At least once a year
Wood: Quarterly when in use
Bituminous coal: Quarterly when in use
Gas: Once a year


Likewise, almost every appliance will need servicing at some point. Failing to do this will inhibit your appliance’s capacity and could also see you wasting money.

For instance, replacing rope seals on the door of your stove will ensure that the fuel inside burns at the correct temperature. Damaged or missing rope seals will let in excess air, causing the fire to burn out of control. Not only is this inefficient, but it will end up costing you more as you will have to refuel more often.

Our advice is to contact your local professional chimney sweep, who will be able to advise on service and maintenance for your appliance.

Original Article: Burnright


14 wheelbarrows of nest removed from chimney

A warning for new homeowners!

These pics were taken by me Alec Osborn, in the Hereford area, after I was called-in to inspect a chimney. The new home owners had decided the chimney structure and woodburning stove needed a careful inspection. It was a good job they did – the situation was dangerous!

“The photos show a jackdaw nest I removed. There were 14 wheelbarrows worth of material to discard!

“This had a live, unlined Woodburner in it but thankfully the new homeowners called me in to check it out.”

The hole you can see in the nest is where the flue pipe from the stove poked up into the old chimney. These photos show just how important it is to have your chimney inspected when you move into a new home. The jackdaws’ nest was an extremely dangerous fire hazard, and the unlined chimney presented an additional risk. Luckily, the owners employed commonsense and contacted Alec just in time.

“We’re grateful to Alec for sharing these photos with the wider public,”

commented Steven Howard, Technical Director of the Guild of Master Sweeps.

“It’s a perfect illustration as to the importance of professional chimney inspections and sweeping.

“We dread to think what may have happened if Alec had not been called to the scene. Fortunately, these new homeowners did the right thing and now they can enjoy the Woodburner safe in the knowledge that the chimney has been given a risk assessment and proper sweep by Alec.” Steven added: “If you have just moved into a new home, please do not be tempted to light the fire.

Contact your local Guild sweep straight away and ask for a professional review of your chimney. You can easily find them via the Find a Sweep directory.”