26 September 2023

CFA declares chimney checks crucial for winter

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The Country Fire Authority (CFA) is urging Victorians to keep themselves safe this winter by checking and maintaining their fireplaces, chimneys, fireboxes and flues.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said firefighters responded to numerous chimney fires every year that had been started from fireplaces and wood heaters.

CO Heffernan urged Victorians to have chimneys professionally cleaned annually to avoid the build-up of creosote, a highly flammable black tar-like residue that could clog chimneys.

“Winter is the perfect time to curl up in front of a warm fire, but chimney fires can quickly turn into house fires,” CO Heffernan said.

“Spending a few minutes now to check your chimney could be one of the most important fire safety actions you take this season, and you can easily check for creosote build-up or obstructions by simply using a torch before lighting a fire,” he said.

“Creosote is caused by general use but can also build up faster if you are using incorrect fuels such as green wood or treated timbers, so make sure you only burn dry, clean wood to reduce the risk of fire starting from a fireplace or wood heater.

“We also urge everyone to always extinguish their fire before going to bed or leaving the house.”

CO Heffernan said CFA firefighters responded to 130 chimney fires last year, almost half of which occurred during the winter months.

He said it was important to ensure gas heaters were being used safely and correctly, and advised Victorians to have their gas heaters inspected and serviced by a qualified technician every two years to avoid a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

“The colder months are some of the riskiest times of the year for fires in the home, and most of these fires can be prevented,” he said.

“Taking a few moments to check your heaters and fireplaces before winter sets in could mean the difference between life and death for your family”

CO Heffernan took the opportunity to remind Victorians that interconnected smoke alarms in all bedrooms and living areas could provide vital seconds to allow them and their family to escape in case of a fire.

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