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Following an incident in Palmers Green 'which could have had deadly consequences', London Fire Brigade have issued a warning about the risks of carbon monoxide fumes produced by poorly maintained fires. The brigade emphasizes that households that use open fires or wood burners need to keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained and have chimneys swept by a registered sweep annually (or twice a year if burning wood).

In this case, residents of a flat in Osborne Road could have died as a consequence of the actions of people in a neighbouring property:

We've issued an urgent safety warning asking residents to check their open fire chimney and flue are in good working condition, following a recent call out to a north London home, where dangerously high carbon monoxide (CO) levels were recorded and could have led to fatalities if left undetected.

The incident, at a semi-detached house that had been converted into flats on Osborne Road, came to the resident’s attention after they noticed a smell of burning. Our crews and a gas engineer investigated the source and found it was due to an open fire next door. Firefighters fear if the resident had not raised the alarm due to the smell of burning, it could have been fatal to all the occupants in the building. The Brigade went to the home after fumes from a neighbouring flat entered the property. The cause of the high CO levels was due to an open fire, which was lit in an adjoining flat earlier in the day. It had been left to smoulder and was not venting correctly, as neighbours went out for the evening.

Safety tips for log burners and open fires

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained. 
  • Always have your chimney swept by a specialist – at least once a year for coal, twice if burning logs. 
  • Make sure you use a fireguard to protect against flying sparks and hot embers. 
  • Keep clothing and fabric well away from open fires and log burners.
  • Watch out for children and pets – supervise them carefully and use fire guards.

Read the full report on the LFB website


Log in to comment
Ann Jones posted a reply
19 Jan 2023 09:40
How scary. Thank you to our wonderful emergency service. I think it is also worth highlighting the awful levels of pollution woodburning releases whether from open fires or so called “eco” woodburning stoves. As George Monbiot in the Guardian emphasizes: “Wood smoke is astonishingly harmful. Though only 8% of households in the UK (mostly wealthy ones) have a wood-burning stove, they release more small particulates (the most dangerous pollutants) than all the vehicles on the road. Even a modern, approved, “eco-friendly” wood burner produces 750 times as many fine particulates as a heavy goods vehicle”. It’s time to stop it.
Darren Edgar posted a reply
20 Jan 2023 10:47
Geroge Monibot has a lot of smart things to say.

"Low Traffic Neighbourhoods transform people’s lives and rebuild community. Resist the angry men trying to destroy them."