Fireplace and Home Fire Safety
More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel- fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.
Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.
The Apple Valley Fire Department encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility... Fire Stops With You!
Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean
- Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
- Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
- Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces.
- Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
- Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
- Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
- Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.
- 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 or wood stove.
- 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.
- Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.
Safe Disposal of Ashes
Hot ashes from charcoal grills or fireplaces can be dangerous. These ashes and coals, when removed from their burners, should be stored for disposal in metal containers until they are cool. Ashes can stay hot for days after being taken from their burners. Too many people empty their ashes into a paper bag or cardboard box and set them in the trash area of their garage until trash pickup day. This is a very dangerous fire hazard. Ashes can easily rekindle and burst into flames causing a house fire. To keep your home and family fire safe, please put your hot ashes in a metal container with a cover. These cans should be kept outside or may be stored inside a building if kept clear of combustible materials.
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. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.
- Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
- Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.