BY FIRE CHIEF SAM DIGIOVANNA
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.
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!