Over 1,700 chimney fires were attended to across the region by the NI Fire & Rescue Service last year.

Over 1,700 chimney fires in NI last year
Chimney Fire Safety Week lasts until Sunday. (© Presseye)

The statistics were revealed by the service on Monday, to coincide with the start of Chimney Fire Safety Week.

In 2013, over 7% of all incidents attended by crews were chimney fires.

The Fire and Rescue Service is reminding householders that chimney fires can be easily prevented by getting chimneys swept regularly to ensure that they are safe and clean for use.

Kevin O’Neill, Group Commander, said: “With the colder months looming, people will start to use open fires and their chimneys again.

“In order to keep you and your family safe from fire, we are urging anyone who plans to light their fire over the coming months to be ‘fire safe’ and have the flue swept first.”

Mr O’Neill said that the rising cost of home heating oil has meant that open fires are becoming an increasingly common way to save money.

However, the Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging people not to make cut backs when it comes to their fire safety.

“All chimney fires have the potential to be extremely dangerous, however, with regular inspection and cleaning of the chimney flue, the chances of a fire can be greatly reduced.

“The cost of a chimney sweep, once a year, is very small when compared to dealing with the damage and cost of repair after a chimney fire, not to mention the potential threat to life if the chimney fire were to spread to the rest of the property.”

He continued: “A clean chimney flue creates a clear and safe passage, lowering the risk of the chimney catching fire. Sweeping will also mean that objects such as nests, cobwebs and loose brickwork are cleared, which also helps minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Please also ensure that you have working smoke alarms in your home and test them once a week.