By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
“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.
Do not place space heaters near furniture or other flammable objects. Give them space!
Safely Burn Fuels
Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
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.
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!