Sunday 15 December 2019

Fine chimney fire home owners

David Looby at Wexford County Council meeting

Any council tenant who has had more than one chimney fire should pay the fire brigade costs.

This was the message that went out from a fiery meeting. There were 92 chimney fires in County Wexford last year, costing the local authority €116,000 in repairs and there have been eight chimney fires in the first quarter of this year, costing €42,544 in repair bills.

Director of Services John Carley said: 'We are writing to tenants who had chimney fires,' only to be told the letters will end up in the fire.

One councillor suggested using pre-tenancy meetings to raise the matter. Mr Carley said the council are piloting a proper disposal of plastics initiative on a countywide basis, starting in Enniscorthy. Cllr Oisin O'Connell said a fire review in London showed that one third of fires were caused by an appliance made by one single brand. Mr Carley said the chief fire officer is no doubt aware of the London fire report, adding: 'I would've thought we would have been careful (about what appliance brands we use).'

Cllr Malcolm Byrne said there is a risk to neighbouring houses from chimney fires, adding that Wexford County Council is always left picking up the cost. 'Where there are tenants in estates where their houses have experienced chimney fires two or three times, a charge should be applied to them,' he said. 'I don't think it's enough for us to write to them if they had two fires in the past two years. If it was me I would be working damn hard to ensure I didn't have another chimney fire. You have to have some personal responsibility here. We have above the national average of chimney fires.'

Cllr Michael Sheehan said a New Ross resident ended up in hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.

'A lot of our housing stock is older,' he added.

Cllr Larry O'Brien said: 'This is about educating people about getting their chimney cleaned as every chimney should be cleaned once a year. Tenants have rights but landlords have rights also. There is a huge cost issue.'

Cllr Johnny Mythen said safety leaflets and tenant meetings are needed.

Wexford People

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