Safety check before warm-up

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A SAFETY warning has been issued for property owners to check and maintain their fireplaces, chimneys, fireboxes and flues.

The CFA says there has been a rise in the number of chimney fires from both fireplaces and wood heaters.

CFA’s manager community safety Jude Kennedy said over time there could be a build-up of creosote, a black tar-like residue, which is highly flammable and could clog up chimneys.

“Creosote is not only caused by general use, but it can also build up quicker if you are using incorrect fuels, such as green wood or treated timbers,” he said.

To reduce the risk of fire starting from a fireplace or wood heater: Use a torch to check for creosote build-up or obstructions; have chimneys professionally cleaned annually; only burn dry, clean wood; and, extinguish fires before going to bed or leaving the house.

Mr Kennedy said gas heaters should be  inspected and serviced every two years to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning or fire.

“Every household should consider their fire safety practices and examine the potential risks around their home,” he said.

“Cooler weather conditions and the winter months are one of the riskiest times of the year for fires in the home and sadly, most of these fires can be prevented.

“Chimney fires can quickly turn into house fires so the few minutes spent now could be one of the most important fire safety actions you take.

“Fireplaces can also be a fire hazard if fuels are allowed to fall out of the fireplace. A secure guard or fireproof screen should be used at all times.

“If drying clothes ensure they are positioned at least one metre away from the heat source and constantly monitored to reduce the chance of them igniting.”

“One of the nicest things about winter is curling up in front of a warm fire, and with these small tips we can ensure you do this safely,” Mr Kennedy said.

First published in the Mornington News – 21 May 2019

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