Suffolk: Fire crews spent almost 29 days tackling chimney blazes

Bar manager Mark Cooper next to the fire at The Harbour Inn, Ferry Road, Southwold.

Bar manager Mark Cooper next to the fire at The Harbour Inn, Ferry Road, Southwold. - Credit: Andrew Partridge

Firefighters have spent more than 684 hours – almost 29 days – tackling chimney fires across Suffolk in the past three financial years, new figures have revealed.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was called to 541 chimney blazes between April 2010 and March 2012.

Fire crews tackled 195 chimney fires in 246 hours, 26 minutes and 49 seconds in 2010 and dealt with 192 chimney fires in 229 hours, 25 minutes and 58 seconds last year.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s assistant chief fire officer Phil Embury reminded people about preventative measures.

He said: “If you have an open fire in your house, it is important to ensure that your chimneys are swept regularly by a competent chimney sweep.

“Most of these fires are preventable if residents follow the correct advice and guidelines.

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“Wood-burning stoves are growing in popularity – it is absolutely vital that they are installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and checked regularly to ensure they are safe and clean.”

Landlord Nick Attfield has urged publicans to have their chimneys swept regularly after chimney fires at his pubs, The Harbour Inn in Southwold and Walberswick’s The Bell Inn.

He said: “Both pubs are old and we have up to five log burners across the two pubs going at any one time.

“You do get build-ups on ledges in the chimneys because of the age of the buildings.

“This has possibly been one of the longest periods of times we have had continuous log fires.

“We started back in September and only stopped a couple of weeks ago, whereas we usually finish in March.”

Mr Attfield said the pubs’ chimneys have to be swept at least once a year but he aims to get them cleaned twice.

“While it feels like it’s self-contained, you don’t know what damage is going on higher up,” he added.

“Chimney fires can get out of hand very quickly.”