On the first day of winter, Victorian firefighters are urging residents to keep themselves safe by checking and maintaining their fireplaces, chimneys, fireboxes and flues.
As the cold takes hold each year, the Victorian fire services see a large number of chimney fires from both fireplaces and wood heaters.
In 2020, Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) responded to 192 chimney fires, more than half of which (104) occurred during the winter months.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said winter is the perfect time to curl up in front of a warm fire, and with a few small tips Victorians could enjoy the activity safely.
“Chimney fires can quickly turn into house fires so the few minutes spent now could be one of the most important fire safety actions you take this season,” he said.
CO Heffernan urged Victorian households to have chimneys professionally cleaned annually to avoid the build-up of creosote – a highly flammable black tar-like residue – that could clog chimneys.
“Creosote is not only caused by general use, but it can also build up quicker if you are using incorrect fuels, such as green wood or treated timbers, so make sure you only burn dry, clean wood to reduce the risk of fire starting from a fireplace or wood heater,” he said.
“Residents could also use a torch to check for creosote build-up or obstructions, and we urge everyone to always extinguish their fire before going to bed or leaving the house,” CO Heffernan said.