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Chimney fires

roof of a building on fire

This section includes information on preventing chimney fires and what to do if one occurs.

Why they happen

When a fire is lit flammable deposits build up in the chimney and flue. If these are allowed to accumulate the heat from a fire can cause them to ignite, causing a chimney fire.

How to tell if your chimney is on fire

  • A loud roaring noise.
  • Sparks and flames seen shooting from the chimney top.
  • Smoke or smells noticeable in other rooms or the loft space
  • The chimney breast of flue pipe heating up in either the same room or other rooms they pass through.

What to do if you think your chimney is on fire

Call the Fire Service by dialling 999.

Do not attempt to put out the fire with buckets of water.

Do not use your fire/wood burner again after you've had a chimney fire, until you have had the chimney inspected as the fire may have caused damage to the chimney structure or flue.

Preventing chimney fires (and fires caused by open fires or wood burners)

Regular cleaning of chimneys and flues reduces the risk of dangerous fumes entering the home and eliminates the build up of soot from coal, wood, oil and gas fired systems. It also clears obstructions such as bird and animal nests, leaves and debris.

You should check the roof space regularly, when a fire is lit, to ensure that smoke is not leaking into the roof space.

Use a fire-guard to protect againt flying sparks from hot embers.

Chimneys should be swept regularly with ventilation for flues and chimneys inspected at the same time. Chimneys should be swept by a trained person.

  • At least once a year for smokeless fuel
  • At least twice a year (or quarterly) for wood and bituminous coal

Wood burners still require regular inspection and sweeping to operate safely.

Ensure wood burners are installed and serviced by a competent engineer and in line with building regulations.

Make sure ash and embers are cold before putting them into wheelie bins.

Ensure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms fitted and test them regularly.

If you are in a rented property, your landlord has a duty of care towards you as a tenant 'to repair and keep in any working order, any room heater and water heating equipment'. They also have responsibilites to fit smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in line with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. 

Download a copy of our chimney safety leaflet

Getting your chimney swept

There are a number of organisations who can help you find a chimney sweep including:

(this list is not extensive and there may be others)

Please note North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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