Banburyshire village leads the way on chimney safety

In the middle of a heatwave, Shotteswell has been the focus of a campaign to remind people to call in a chimney sweep before fires are lit to provide heat in winter.
Pictured at the campaign launch are Shotteswell resident Gareth Jenkins holding his daughter Pippa, with chimney sweep Paul Braggins, front left, representatives from Cadent, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue and Shotteswell Warm Hub, plus Warwickshire county council portfolio holder Cllr Andy Crump, fourth from left, and county Cllr Chris Mills, front right, next to group commander Scott Moultrie, far right.Pictured at the campaign launch are Shotteswell resident Gareth Jenkins holding his daughter Pippa, with chimney sweep Paul Braggins, front left, representatives from Cadent, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue and Shotteswell Warm Hub, plus Warwickshire county council portfolio holder Cllr Andy Crump, fourth from left, and county Cllr Chris Mills, front right, next to group commander Scott Moultrie, far right.
Pictured at the campaign launch are Shotteswell resident Gareth Jenkins holding his daughter Pippa, with chimney sweep Paul Braggins, front left, representatives from Cadent, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue and Shotteswell Warm Hub, plus Warwickshire county council portfolio holder Cllr Andy Crump, fourth from left, and county Cllr Chris Mills, front right, next to group commander Scott Moultrie, far right.

The village was the first to have a Warm Hub back in 2020, accredited by Warwickshire Rural Community Council (WRCC) and sponsored by Cadent, to help bring people together and tackle the rising cost of living.

The latest initiative has been to urge people to get their chimney swept now, at the beginning of the busiest time of year for professional chimney sweeps like Paul Braggins.

A special campaign ran in the village from its launch in July to last Friday, August 5, which saw a number of residents get their chimneys swept for free.

Tom Byrne was one of those who had the work done in that time and said: “It’s so important to put safety first for your family, especially if you’ve got young children.”

Cadent has joined forces with Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Services to campaign for increased awareness of home safety measures.

Shotteswell Village Hall Committee chair Ben Zammett and the Warm Hub team were delighted with the positive response to the campaign but are also keen to promote the message to a wider audience: “We know many people in rural communities will light fires to help stay warm this winter, and faced with the increasing costs of living, it’s important you don’t try to save money by cutting corners on safety. Get your chimney swept now and it’s one less thing to worry about.”

While Mr Braggins has been sweeping chimneys in the village, the fire and rescue service has carried out several safe and well checks.

Residents can contact the service to request a free check, which includes providing fire advice, looking for fire hazards, inspecting electrical sockets, spotting potential slip and trip risks, and identifying emergency exits.

Existing smoke alarms can be checked and new ones installed.

Although Shotteswell isn’t connected to mains gas, Cadent has also supplied villagers with carbon monoxide alarms to keep them safe. The poisonous and odourless gas can be found in homes where chimneys haven’t been swept regularly and don’t have sufficient ventilation – or when people go against advice and use barbecues indoors.

Cllr Andy Crump, Warwickshire’s portfolio holder for fire and rescue and community safety, said at the launch: “We want everyone to stay safe during the colder months this year, so think about the last time your chimney was swept and plan ahead. Our safe and well checks are great for ensuring residents remain independent and safe in their homes.”

Cadent social programme manager Edward Allard added: “It’s important that organisations work together to educate everyone on the signs, symptoms, and dangers of carbon monoxide. Regularly sweeping your chimney and installing a carbon monoxide alarm are simple, effective methods to stay safe at home. Cadent provides free alarms via the Warm Hub network.”

For more information on Warm Hubs and other WRCC initiatives, go to its website by clicking here.