Firies warn of chim­ney soot risk

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - NEWS - Jac­inta Can­ta­tore

FIRE­FIGHT­ERS are urg­ing peo­ple to get their chim­neys checked after be­ing called to ex­tin­guish a flue fire at a Brunswick Junc­tion home.

Brunswick Junc­tion Vol­un­teer Fire and Res­cue Brigade re­sponded to a 000 call about 10.45pm on June 12 after flames were seen com­ing from the top of the chim­ney of a res­i­dence near Par­tridge Road.

Fire­fight­ers ar­rived within five min­utes and were able to ex­tin­guish the blaze, but brigade cap- tain Fran­cis Bur­goyne said it was lucky the house was brick and cor­ru­gated iron.

“Had it been a wooden house with a wooden floor and those em­bers came out, it could have been a very dif­fer­ent story,” Mr Bur­goyne said.

Be­cause the fire had re­mained in the chim­ney, the prop­erty’s smoke alarm did not go off un­til after fire­fight­ers be­gan bat­tling the blaze.

“If it goes off into the roof, you won’t even get that smoke to set off the alarm,” he said.

Mr Bur­goyne said the likely cause was a build-up of soot and de­posits in the flue be­ing ig­nited from the wood fire be­low.

While he ad­vised get­ting chim­neys cleaned ev­ery year, he said it was not only a main­te­nance is­sue.

“Wet wood and ‘green­ness’ of the wood can cause a lot of build-up,” he said.

“Get a li­censed chim­ney sweep out to have it prop­erly cleaned.

“If not much comes out, you know you’re do­ing some­thing right, but if a lot of build-up comes out it’s go­ing to show you’re tak­ing a big chance.”

Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices man­ager of fire in­ves­ti­ga­tion Peter Jones said soot and de­posits could build up, pro­vid­ing ideal con­di­tions for flames to ig­nite in the flue.

“The build-up can catch and ig­nite quite vi­ciously,” Mr Jones said.

“It does have the po­ten­tial to spread to the rest of the house.”

Even if the fire it­self doesn’t spread, the smoke can spread back into the house and has the po­ten­tial to cause smoke in­hala­tion in­juries.

“I rec­om­mend that peo­ple get open fires and heaters in­stalled and main­tained by a rep­utable trades­per­son qual­i­fied to do the job and make sure they’re safe to light, ide­ally be­fore the first time they use them for the sea­son,” he said.

“If in­stalled and main­tained cor­rectly it is a safe form of heat­ing.

“We ad­vise peo­ple to use fire screens, keep chil­dren away from any heaters, and ex­tin­guish flames be­fore go­ing to bed. And check the DFES Win­terSafe web­site for more ways to stay safe and warm this win­ter.”

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