My wife and I are fortunate enough to be the tenants of one part of a Grade 2 Listed building – dating back in parts to the 16th century. The entire building, which comprises three distinct but connected houses, must be near-on 100 rooms in total. It being quite some time since the houses were modernised, we do not have the benefit of central heating, I can easily get through three to four tons of logs each year.
This winter, unbeknownst to me, the cowl blew off our main chimney and in the spring there was a period of good weather during which time we did not use the fireplace. Thus allowing jackdaws to completely fill a 50 foot flue with nest material. As is so often the case with an English spring, it turned sharply cold again in the middle of April.
So we lit the fire. This was a very bad idea!
The jackdaw nest material was held slightly above the fireplace, I didn’t see it, but it very quickly caught fire – burning up through the stack and dropping large lumps of flaming material into the fireplace. At this point we had a full-on house-fire developing and – because of difficult access to the property the Fire Brigade were going to be at least an hour.
My wife, who was commentating from outside the living room window, tells me that the chimney appeared to work like a rocket engine, firing a jet of flame and smoke thirty or forty feet straight up in the air with further horizontal jets of flame coming out of the pointing beneath the chimney pots.
Thankfully, I had available to me six P50’s. A very quick thinking friend grabbed a sheet of wet plywood out of the kitchen garden and used that to contain the “nest bombs” that were exploding in the fireplace. At the same time I started attacking the fire with the extinguishers. In the space of the next few minutes we had used all but the last couple of litres out of six of the extinguishers to get control. Job done.
It was a very close run event as by the time we put it out we were crouched down in 2 foot of breathable air, under a thick layer of very dense and potentially (according to the Fire Brigade) lethal smoke. Had we not had the Britannia kit available, and the fire had taken a hold, we would certainly have lost the entire three house complex along with all of it is historical value and, of course, in the worst case there could have been fatalities.
I also take this opportunity to thank Britannia Fire employee John Baldock for the excellent service he provided and cannot fault how swiftly he came out to us to refill and re-gas the spent P50’s. We were so impressed with John and the P50’s that we have since purchased more units for other family members’ homes.
In the words of Gloucestershire Fire Brigade, we were very (f€%~<^g) lucky. It is often said that you make your own luck and in this case by buying the Britannia P50’s, we most certainly did.
David S Tetbury, Gloucestershire