FIREFIGHTERS in Wiltshire are reminding householders to ensure their chimneys are safe.

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has been called out to 12 chimney fires since the beginning of December.

Watch manager Neil Chamberlain, from the community safety department, said: “An open fire is ideal to keep warm in the winter, but without proper maintenance a chimney can become dangerous.

"There were more than 220 chimney fires in Wiltshire during 2011 but many of these could have been prevented.

“To keep yourself and your family safe from fire, you should take care to have your chimney swept regularly, depending on what fuel you burn. If the worst should happen, a smoke alarm can give you the extra time you need to escape in a house fire – make sure you test yours weekly.”

The service is reminding those with real fires to:

• Use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers

• Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed

• Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained Properties with thatched roofs are particularly vulnerable in the event of a chimney fire and the service has put together an information pack for householders.

For more information call 0800 3897849 or visit