A sample survey of some of the factors involved in chimney fires has been carried out with the co-operation of ten Fire Brig&des. There is evidence that the total nuraber of ohiraney fires attended which increased up to 1953, levelled off in 1953 and 1954 and this tendency may have continued in 1955, though data on this year are not yet available.
Nearly all chilnney fires took place in dwellings; some 60 per cent of.
them were started by ordinary open fires burning coal. Nineteen per cent of the fires were started by continuous burning open fires with or without back boilers. The estimated proportion of such fires ccrrrently in use is between 25 and 30 per cent so there is no evidence that the increase in chimney fires is due to the increasing use of continuous burning fire grates.
There is no evidence that the use of fuels other than coal contributed
substantially to the incidence of chimney fires. There were reported to be bends, constrictions or shelves, most of wich would be easily cleaned, in nearly 90 per cent of the chinlileys involved. Between 35 per cent and 65 per cent of the chimneys involved caught fire within four months of being swept, in the four largest Brigades. This feature has been noticed in independent surveys and suggests that daily oleaning by the householder of the lower part of the chimney when in use may be an important factor in preventing chimney fires.
The most frequent method of cleaning chimneys was reported to be brush sweeping, an average of 82 per cent of the chinmsys involved. Eleven per cent of the chimneys involved were cleaned by the vacuum method in conjunction with brush sweeping while only 2 per cent were reported to be cleaned by the vacuum method alone.