Wigan worst in the region for chimney fires

Shock figures showing Wigan to be the worst in Greater Manchester for chimney fires must serve as a “wake-up call”, an expert says.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 9:55 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 9:56 am
David Sudworth

David Sudworth, of Ashton-based Mr Soot Chimney Sweep, found that at least 430 chimneys have caught fire in the city-region over the last decade.

They rank Wigan worst with 76 blazes - 13 of them last year alone.

Stockport and Oldham were in joint second place, with 58 incidents each in the past decade. Salford had the fewest with 26.

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David, a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, is at the forefront of raising awareness of fireplace safety as a co-founder of the national campaign Burnright.

He said: “The worrying thing is that these statistics only tell a partial story. I’ve been to Wigan properties which have had a chimney fire and either the customer hasn’t realised, or they saw sparks coming out of their chimney but didn’t call the fire brigade. The real figure could actually be closer to 1,000 or even more.

“The truth is that chimney fires are entirely avoidable and it’s mostly down to a lack of sweeping. Despite the resurgence in ‘real’ fires, some people mistakenly believe they don’t need to have their chimney swept, and that sweeps are a thing of the past. These statistics demonstrate the exact opposite.

“When I sweep a chimney, I am not only making the flue safer, but the process also gives me insights into the burning habits of the customer. Fuels which are either inappropriate for the fireplace, or burnt in the wrong way, can also cause a chimney fire.

“I always make a point of educating a customer on correct fuel choice and burning.

“But if they’re not getting that advice, and not getting their chimney cleaned, then they are putting themselves, their home and even their neighbours at serious risk.

“Every live flue should be swept a minimum of once a year by a professional, registered chimney sweep, regardless of how often it is used.

“Hopefully these statistics will be a wake up call to people. Having your chimney swept is a small price to pay to help keep your property and family as safe as possible. And it stops you from potentially invalidating your home insurance.”