Notts: Sharp rise in fires linked to wood burning stoves and chimneys

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Notts Fire and Rescue Service is urging householders to take extra precautions with wood burning stoves, following a sharp rise in the number of fires relating to their installation and maintenance.

Last year 17 house fires were attributed to wood burning stoves and chimneys – 10 more than in 2012. In 2011, just three fires involving wood burners or chimneys were attended by firefighters, with four in 2010.

Common problems include wood burners not being installed by a registered or competent engineer, logs being stored too close to the stove and fires not being extinguished properly at night. Faulty appliances, poor ventilation and incorrect fuel are also contributing factors.

Station manager Glenn Mears of the service’s arson reduction investigation team says that many fires relating to wood burning stoves could be prevented.

There appears to have been an increase in the popularity of solid fuel heating and wood burning stoves of late, not just in Notts but across the country,” he said.

“Consequently this has resulted in a sharp rise in the number of fires we have attended which are related to these forms of heating.”

“One of our primary concerns at any fire is finding out the cause and establishing whether the fire could have been prevented.”

“What we as fire investigators have seen recently is a number of examples where hazards could have been avoided, such as the burner and flue being positioned too close to combustible materials such as wooden beams and lintels.”

“In the coming weeks, as temperatures are set to drop, I’d like to remind anyone who uses such a form of heating to pay extra attention to its use and maintenance in order to avoid the potentially devastating incidence of fire in the home.”

The service has issued the following advice: use an engineer registered in a Competent Persons Scheme, ensure the wood burning stove and chimney unit is regularly maintained, serviced and swept by a competent engineer, ensure a carbon monoxide detector is fitted in the same room as the wood burning stove and this detector is tested on a regular basis, ensure the room is well ventilated and air vents are not obstructed, use the appropriate fuel, use a fire or spark guard, do not store combustible material such as logs, close to the wood burning stove and make sure fire embers are properly put out.