Fire Safety

Safety tips for log burners and open fires 

It's really important to follow some simple rules to keep snug & safe with a traditional fire:  

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.

  • Always have your chimney swept by a specialist – according to current guidelines

  • Make sure you use a fireguard to protect against flying sparks and hot embers.

  • Before you go to bed, make sure fires or hot embers are under control and guarded.

  • Store logs away from solid fuel burners – radiated heat can cause them to burn.

  • Keep clothing and fabric well away from open fires and log burners. 

  • Watch out for children and pets – supervise them carefully, and use fire guards. 

Carbon Monoxide risks – gas fires, open fires and log burners

It's really important to fit a Carbon Monoxide alarm in all rooms containing solid fuel, gas or paraffin heaters.  It's also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and learn what to do if you suspect there may be a leak. 

Creosote and Chimney Fires
The job of the chimney sweep is to remove soot, blockages and built-up creosote from your chimney liner, firebox, smoke chamber and damper.

This cleaning helps to create a safer and more efficient heating system.

It only takes a small accumulation of creosote glazing to create the right conditions for a potential chimney fire.
Creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney or liner as a result of burning wood.  The rate of accumulation can be higher if you practice poor burning practices or have a burning appliance or stove that is not working well.

Different types of wood create different amounts of creosote when burned.  Pine causes a rapid build-up of creosote and should be avoided as a regular source of wood.  Creosote can also reduce the draw of the fireplace and reduce efficiency.

Do you think you may have a birds nest in your chimney?
Jackdaw nest in your chimney is a major health risk, causing a complete obstruction to the airway and therefore a major Carbon Monoxide and fire risk.

The way the Jackdaw builds its nest is by dropping or pushing twigs down the chimney.

If the chimney is small enough they will bend the twig in the middle as they push it down the flue.  When they release it, it may wedge itself in place.  If not it will catch further down the chimney or will fall to the bottom of the flue.  Irrespective of if it sticks in place or falls, another twig is added and so on.  Quite often, the twigs will fall to a bend in the chimney, which is common to most chimneys. 

If you think there may be a birds nest in your chimney, there are a few things you can look out for.

If you start to find twigs and other debris in your fire grate then there is a strong possibility that nesting activity is taking place.

Bird Movement.
Take a few minutes to keep a watch on your chimney pot.  You will see the birds flying back and forth dropping or pushing material into the chimney pot.

If you normally hear pigeons cooing or traffic noise and then it stops and all is silent, there may be an obstruction in the flue.

Do not try to light a fire and burn the nest out, you run a high risk of setting the chimney on fire or filling the whole house with smoke.  If it's in the very early stages, get a chimney sweep in immediately.  If you leave it to the middle of April (Start of nesting season) it may be too late as it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to destroy or remove a nest while it is in use.  The best time to remove nests is between mid September & March.  The best advice is to prevent any birds/squirrels from entering your chimney altogether by having a cowl fitted.  

Nest Removal.
This can be a very physical and time consuming job.  This entails removing all of the loose material at the bottom of the flue before breaking the nest up using a small hard brush or/and a metal nest removal tool.  Eventually removing all remnants of the nest in the chimney before finally sweeping completely clean.