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Christmas Fireplace Safety

December 20, 2012

Christmas WoodstoveOkay, our last topic for the Christmas season regards your woodstove/fireplace/pellet stove.  Since it’s winter time, these heating appliances are getting used more often.  That’s what they’re designed for.  There are a few tips we recommend you follow this Christmas to keep a bunch of firefighters out of your house (they will track snow in on your carpet if they show up!).

First of all, you’ve heard it here before, ensure your chimney is cleaned and inspected at least annually.  If everyone in Fire District 9 did that, we probably would not respond to another chimney fire.  That little bit of maintenance is the best insurance policy you can have against a chimney fire.

Secondly keep an adequate clear space around your stove or fireplace.  We accumulate a lot of combustible decorations around the holidays.  Ensure you keep these things a safe distance from the fireplace and woodstove.  I once investigated a case where a woman’s robe caught fire from a fireplace insert.  She was just sure that should not have happened.  On the front of the insert was a red sticker warning users to keep furniture, toys and clothing away from the insert.  This lady stood right up against the insert to get warm one cold winter morning and could not understand why her robe caught fire.  Fortunately she was able to get it off and out before she got injured.  The point is that distance between combustibles and the heating appliance is an absolute necessity.

What about burning wrapping paper in the fireplace or woodstove?  We visited that topic last year (  Wrapping paper provides the perfect surface-area-to-mass ratio and has very little fuel moisture.  Consequently a big wad of wrapping paper will get your stove to higher temperatures than normal in a much quicker time frame than the designer intended.  Your risk of chimney fire is high.  Prudent homeowners don’t take the risk and put wrapping paper in the trash.

Lastly, and this is a huge one lately, when you clean out the ashes, put them into a metal bucket and get them outside and away from the house, deck and garage immediately!  Ashes put in a bag or box piled in the back entryway happens so often it’s heartbreaking.  Cleaning the ashes out is a necessary chore.  Finish the chore correctly by ensuring the ashes are in a non-combustible container and that they get outside and away from the house immediately.  Either put the ashes on your garden plot (unless you have mulched the garden plot) or get them wet for one week before putting them out with the trash for collection.

We hope your family has a great time this holiday season.  As much as we like our customers, we hope we don’t get to meet you professionally this season.


From → Fire Prevention

One Comment
  1. Great tips and a very good reminder to keep your chimney in check.

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