Woodburner warning

Householders are putting their lives at risk by installing their own woodburners in a bid to keep rising fuel costs down, warns Community Fire Safety Manager Rabinder Dhami at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

They are also risking huge financial costs if a fire breaks out as insurance claims potentially could be turned down if stoves are not fitted by a qualified engineer.

There have been eight chimney fires in county homes in March - two of them caused by faulty woodburners. In February there were 23 chimney fires and 28 in January.

The rise in chimney fires has been caused by home owners trying to reduce heating bills by exploring new methods of heating their home. Fuel costs have risen for the average householder by approximately £224 or 21 per cent in the past year alone.

With incomes being squeezed and the cost of living increasing it is understandable why people are looking at alternative heating methods, said Rabinder Dhami.

Chimneys go on fire when they are not swept regularly and unseasoned wood or rubbish is used leaving tar inside the flue which can set alight. There is also the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning with householders urged to fit a carbon monoxide alarm to detect “the silent killer.”

“We are now finding that people are also purchasing second hand woodburning stoves and fitting it themselves because they think it will be cheaper.

“Not only are they putting their lives at risk but they could be left with a bill for thousands of pounds as insurance companies refuse to pay out.

“We do appeal to people not to cut corners like this. It is endangering people’s lives.”

With annual household bills at more than £1,200 a year, people are being forced to look at alternative methods of heating their homes.

Sales of woodburners have rocketed with a reported 30 per cent fuel savings. But with woodburners costing at least £500 and installation charges standing at £1,000 plus, including sweeping and lining a chimney, the savings may not be as much as originally anticipated by householders.

“Saving money when it endangers your life is definitely not worth it. If you do have a woodburner ensure that it is fitted by a registered engineer,” added Rabinder.

15th March, 2013