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Fire Safety Community Champion Scheme

Fergus  Sharman is the Fire Safety Community Champion for Bassingbourn and  surrounding area. Fergus is a local chimney sweep and as such is well  placed to fulfil the fire safety role.

Any  local group or organisation that would like to receive a fire safety  presentation are welcome to contact Fergus to arrange a talk (remember  that this is a volunteer service and will cost nothing). 

To arrange a presentation please contact Fergus on 01763 241619 / 07812602370 / /


Smoke alarms are considered to be the best defence in the event of fire. They give you vital extra time to escape.

A smoke alarm should be fitted to every floor of your home

  • Once a week test the battery - press the test button until the alarm sounds
  • Twice a year vacuum the inside of the alarm to remove dust from the sensors

When you return from a holiday make sure you check your smoke alarms are still working – test them

Remember only a working smoke alarm will help save your life in the event of a fire



Most domestic fires were in a kitchen.  Fires resulting from unattended cooking featured heavily.

No act of cooking should be  left unattended.  Check to ensure that hobs and ovens are turned off  when not needed.  Remember that ceramic hobs may be accidentally  switched on so do not place items on the hob (I’ve set fire to a cloth  this way).


Carelessly discarded cigarettes.

Still a regular cause of  domestic fire.  Please ensure that all smoking material is properly  extinguished, especially at bed time.  If you are smoking in bed you are  definitely heading for trouble if your habit is to fall asleep while  lit up.


Faulty electrics.

A common cause especially if  electrical work has been carried out by non qualified people.  Old  electrical installations should be inspected by a qualified sparky who  will advise on any improvements that should be made.  You may consider  the inspection expensive but it may save your home and your life and at  least you will have peace of mind that your electrics are safe.


Washing machines.

It’s always controversial when  I tell people that they should only operate washers and tumble driers  when they can be observed.  The statistics for fires caused by these  items justify the advice.  It is safest to operate washing machines and  tumble driers when you are awake and when you are at home (if the fire  takes place when you are out it will not kill you but your property may  suffer greater damage).



An increasing cause in recent year as candles have become very popularPlease  ensure they are placed on a suitable platform and kept well away from  stuff that will catch fire easily such as curtains.  Do not leave them  unattended.  You should ensure that they are extinguished at bed time.



Cambridgeshire Fire &  Rescue Service were called to at least 3 chimney fires in September last  year.  In all cases the chimneys had not been swept and the fire was  caused by a build up of deposits in the chimneys.  In December last year  11 chimney fires were attended.

To prevent chimney fire the  chimneys should be swept at least once a year.  If burning wood, your  chimney may need additional sweeping, depending on the amount of use.

Damp unseasoned wood is the  biggest cause of tar build up in a chimney.  Only burn well seasoned dry  wood.  For those of you with moisture meters the ideal moisture content  is between 14 and 18 % (maybe up to 20% depending on who you talk to).   You can also tell if the wood is dry by knocking two similar pieces  together and listening to the sound (I can’t describe the sound in words  so you will need to experiment and with experience you will know).   Less water means more heat energy for the room and to bring about the  best combustion of the fuels. 

In stoves, do not burn pieces  that are too large.  Small quantities of fuel burnt at a furious rate  will give better efficiency and will burn off more of the volatiles that  cause the tar build up in the chimney.  Read the instruction manual for  your stove and learn how to operate it.

Slow burning, often done  overnight, is an inefficient use of your fuel.  There is not enough heat  produced to burn off the volatiles and it is these that will condense  and build up in your chimney.  There will not be enough heat in the  chimney to keep these volatiles in a gaseous state that will exit the  chimney with other flue gases.

As it happens I am a chimney  sweep and if I am called to sweep a chimney I will happily discuss wood  burning regimes and I can also recommend suppliers of good quality wood  fuel.

Fire Safety Community Champion Scheme

Cambridgeshire  Fire and Rescue Service have initiated the Fire Safety Community  Champion Scheme with the aim of encouraging greater consideration to be  given to home fire safety. Preventing fire is better than deploying  crews to save life and property. Cambridgeshire ACRE co-ordinate the  scheme.

The  scheme relies upon local volunteers, who have been trained by the Fire  Service, to go out into their local communities and speak about fire  safety. The main emphasis is on educating members of the community to  carry out a fire safety check of their properties. For those less  confident in carrying out their own fire safety check, the Community  Champion will arrange for a member of the Fire Service to visit and  complete a check.

For more information on the scheme please visit or