Tips for safer indoor warming fires:
- Get an annual chimney inspection and swept, if needed. If the chimney (fireplace & furnace/water heater/flue) is clean and free of obstructions, there is less danger of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as well as fire extinguishers available
- Open the damper (if any) fully before lighting a fire
- Keep the fire to the back of the fireplace
- Always use a spark screen or glass doors on the front of the fireplace/stove
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions when burning artificial logs
- Make sure that the top of the chimney is free and clear of tree branches, ivy, or overhanging branches, by at least 10 feet.
- Have a cap with a <1/4" mesh screen installed on all flues and chimneys.
- Well-seasoned hardwoods yield the most BTU’s (heat) for your fireplace or wood stove. Wood that has been split and stacked for 6 months out of the rain will be dry enough. Do not burn garbage, Christmas trees, pressure-treated or painted scrap lumber in your fireplace or wood stove. They can create more creosote build-up that could lead to a chimney fire .
- Do not use any type of liquid fire starters (lighter fluid, charcoal grill lighter, gasoline, etc.) to start the fire. Only use fire starters specifically designed for fireplaces and wood stoves. Besides the inherent danger of out of control flames inside the home, some of these accelerants can leave residues that may ignite inside the flue (chimney fire).
- Keep all furniture and combustible furnishings at least 36 inches away from the fireplace or wood stove. Exposure to heat can lower the ignition temperature of combustible items over time, and they can catch fire.
- Screens or doors. Have a fireplace screen or set of glass doors with a screen in front of your fireplace during operation. Flying sparks from sappy wood can burn holes in your carpet or furniture.
- Treat your fire like a toddler, watch them. Tumbling logs off the grate can knock over a fireplace screen and start a house fire. Do not leave them unattended.
If a chimney fire occurs:
- Get everyone out of the house to safety
- Call 911 to report the fire and get help
- Only if you can safely, close the damper or air inlet, empty a fire extinguisher into the firebox and close the door, wet down your roof around and trees above the chimney
- Stay out until the fire department tells you its safe to re-enter
- Don't use the stove or fireplace until reinspected and approved by a chimney professional. Make any recommended repairs first