U.S. Fire Administration Fireplace Safety Tips
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.
-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.
-Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.
-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.
Safely Burn Fuels
-Never use flammable liquids to start a fire
-Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
-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.
-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.
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.
-Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
-Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.