Reminder: clean your chimney before heating season

Every year, with the arrival of cooler weather in Latvia, uncleaned flues, chimneys, and heating installations become the cause of fire accidents. To prevent this from happening, soot from the heating appliance should be cleaned before the start of the heating season, Latvian Radio's report on October 9 reminds.

The gloomy autumn weather, as the thermometer bar slides lower and lower, prompts homeowners to start their furnaces and stoves. And the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) is beginning to receive calls specific to this time.

"It's a special time as the heating season unfolds. According to the statistics at the disposal of VUGD, on average well over 500 calls to soot burning occur every heating season,” said Edgars Kerubins, the operational duty officer of the department of the VUGD's Latgale Regional Administration Service.

The reason for this is the dismissive and sometimes careless attitude of homeowners towards the heating installation of their house, mainly the flue pipe.

"The most serious reason is the failure to clean the flue, as during the burning period perhaps inappropriate fuel, some kind of waste or very damp wood, solid fuel is chosen, which also contributes to the overgrowth of the flue with soot, ash. And cleaning should be done at least once a year before the heating season begins. Burning results in very high temperatures and results in cracks in the flue from which heat can transfer to the house's structures, covers, and loft. As a result, a fire can spread rapidly. Right now, it's high time to pay attention to your flue pipe. Flue cleaning should be carried out before the heating season begins, preferably by November 1, to prevent this excess number of calls and above all to protect yourself from damage to property," Kerubins said.

Fire safety regulations shall require that the flue pipe be inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep or by oneself by November 1.

The SFRS also reiterates smoke detectors must be installed. This has been mandatory since 2020.

"There are often cases where residential homes are not equipped with smoke detectors, which we highly recommend installing. Because at night, when a person has gone to bed, at least a smoke detector signals danger," Kerubins said.

Last year, according to the VUGD, in only 34 percent of homes where a fire broke out rescuers heard the presence of a smoke detector signal.

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