More cold weather is in store this week and nothing beats a nice fire in the fireplace. Fires may keep us warm, however, there are hazards that need to be addressed, reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

Keep Fireplaces Clean

  • Have your fire place/chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
  • Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room. Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen which should be closed when the glass doors are open. This mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace area.
  • Never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
  • Make sure your flue vent is open.
  • Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

Safely Burn Fuels

  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
  • Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace.
  • When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trash can. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

Gas Fireplaces

A natural gas fireplace is a wonderful way to make any room feel warm and special. But it’s also important for you and your family to follow these procedures to stay safe.

  • Review the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and use.
  • Be careful around the outside of your fireplace – the glass window and ceramic surfaces stay hot after the fireplace has been turned off.
  • Never leave children unattended near your fireplace. Use a screen or barrier to keep children from touching the glass.
  • Don’t put flammable materials near your fireplace. If the pilot light or flame goes out, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for relighting.
  • Make sure your fireplace is completely turned off when it’s not being used.
  • Make sure your fireplace is cool before cleaning the glass – wiping hot glass with a damp cloth can crack it.
  • If you smell gas or are experiencing a gas leak immediately evacuate the home and call 911.

Protect the Outside of Your Home

  • Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.
  • Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
  • Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

Protect the Inside of Your Home

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.

For more fireplace safety tips contact your local fire department!

Stay Warm, Stay Safe!

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