Debbie Robinson

Debbie Robinson

drobinson

Debbie Robinson is the Deputy Community Fire Safety Manager at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue. She shares a few basic fire safety tips to prevent chimney fires.


Christmas is fast approaching, but as we’re all looking forward to the seasonal celebrations, it’s important to remember a few fire safety tips so your Christmas doesn’t go up in smoke.

Did you realise that most of our favourite festive traditions such as cooking Christmas dinner, decking the halls and enjoying a drink or two – could all have the potential for disaster? Some of our much-loved festivities can bring a whole cocktail of fire risks into the home, and it’s easy to let safety slip your mind when you’re busy with holiday preparations.

For example, distractions can result in cooking and candles being left unattended – and the added influence of alcohol makes it even more important to stay alert. By being aware of these risks and making a few simple checks though, you can ensure you and your loved ones celebrate in safety.

So, on behalf of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, here are some top tips to ensure you have a happy and safe Christmas:

  • Ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home. It will give you the vital time needed to escape from a fire, so make sure you test them regularly, and never remove the batteries to use in a Christmas present!
  • Never leave cooking unattended – the majority of fires start in the kitchen, so avoid cooking while drinking alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances once you’ve finished with them.
  • Don’t leave candles unattended, and keep them out of the reach of children. Also make sure lit candles are well away from decorations, cards, wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.
  • Before you go to bed or leave the house, remember to switch off and unplug any fairy lights; also, check that your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard BS EN 60598.
  • It’s easy to be enthusiastic about decking the halls, but make sure you don’t overload your sockets! Use only one plug for each socket and always turn them off when they’re not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
  • If you smoke, remember to put your cigarettes right out and take care when you’re tired or have had a few drinks – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
  • Don’t forget to be safe outdoors, too – using an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault. These can be found in any DIY store.
  • Make sure that you don’t put anything too close to open fires or portable heaters, and carefully check electrical cables, plugs, gas pipes and connections and Check any heaters that haven’t been used for some time, as they may have deteriorated and become unsafe.
  • If you use an open fire or wood-burning stove, make sure you use suitable fuel and have the chimney swept.
  • Finally, make sure everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – get out, stay out, and call 999.

One last point to think about is that Christmas is the season of good will. Have you thought about checking on your elderly relatives or neighbours? Because they’re at greater risk from fire.

Have a safe and merry Christmas!

Debbie Robinson is the Deputy Community Fire Safety Manager at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue. She shares a few basic fire safety tips to prevent chimney fires.

As the nights draw in and seasonal celebrations are upon us, we can expect the dark skies to be filled with the bright lights of fireworks. Fireworks add fun and excitement to any party, but it’s important to remember that they can pose serious dangers. They are explosives, after all.

When you’re in the full flow of a party, it’s easy to overlook the dangers of something that should be fun, thinking the warnings are just “health and safety gone mad”. But the latest national figures show that from 2000 – 2005, more than 6,600 people needed hospital treatment because of fireworks – and two people died. Around half of those injuries happened to children under the age of 16, leaving them scarred by burns – for life.

No one wants their celebrations marred by an injury, so here are some top tips to help you keep safe:

  • Make sure you only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark. This shows they meet British or European safety standards.
  • Never buy them from an unlicensed market stall or out of the back of the van – while they might come cheap, they could cost you dearly if they’re not certified as safe.
  • Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix, so anyone setting them off should steer clear of alcohol and make sure they follow the instructions on the fireworks to the letter.
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby to cool sparklers and put out any small fires that might start. Also, wear gloves when handling sparklers so you don’t get burnt.
  • Keep a safe distance away from the fireworks or bonfire so nobody gets hurt, and never approach a lit firework that hasn’t gone off.
  • Make sure suitable supports are being used, such as a bucket of sand for launching rockets.

So by all means, have fun this season, but please remember safety this November and follow these tips. We really don’t want our firefighters and ambulance colleagues to have to crash your party!

Debbie Robinson is the Deputy Community Fire Safety Manager at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue. She shares a few basic fire safety tips to prevent chimney fires.

With cooler weather around the corner and the nights beginning to draw in, many people will soon be firing up their fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.

Although open fires and wood burners undeniably add heat and ambience to a home, it’s important to remember that over 6,000 chimney fires occur in England each year.

In the last year, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue attended 146 fires that started in a chimney – and many of these could have been prevented if precautions had been taken.

Chimney fires happen when soot or creosote deposits in the chimney catch light due to high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extending into the outlet.

All chimney fires are extremely dangerous as internal flue temperatures can reach 1,100 degrees Celsius and heat radiated through chimney walls can cause a devastating house fire – especially in properties with thatched or wooden roofs.

Flames or sparks can leap from the chimney top or through cracks in the flue and ignite the roof or other parts of the house.

The bricks of the chimney can become hot enough to combust thatch, wooden beams – even adjoining houses or nearby trees.

Fire safety tips

Therefore, it’s important to remember a few basic fire safety tips to make sure you’re not at risk.

First of all, always make sure you have a working smoke alarm fitted to each floor of your house. They help save lives by giving you earlier warning of a fire and extra seconds to get out. Make sure, too, that you have a fire escape plan.

Chimney fires most commonly result from four basic causes – infrequent sweeping and cleaning, burning of unseasoned wood, improper appliance sizing, or overnight burning or smouldering of wood for long periods in wood burners.

So to reduce the risk of a fire, make sure your chimney is swept regularly by a professional, qualified chimney sweep such as those certified by the National Association of Chimney Sweeps.

Only burn seasoned wood purchased from reputable suppliers and make sure your wood burner isn’t too large for your room, always following manufacturer’s instructions for fuel loading and air flow.

Use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers, and make sure the fire is completely out before you go to bed.

Also, remember that if you are in a rented property, your landlord has a duty of care towards you as a tenant to repair and maintain heaters and fuel burners.

Make sure your family can safely enjoy a cosy fire – take the proper precautions before the cold weather sets in.

For more fire safety information, please see the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue website.

Would you like more advice or a free Home Fire Safety Check? Please email the Community Fire Safety department or call 01522 582222.

Debbie Robinson is the Deputy Community Fire Safety Manager at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue. She shares a few basic fire safety tips to prevent chimney fires.