Firies warn of chimney soot risk
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.”