Fireplace Safety Important During Winter Months

Image courtesy of NFPA.

Marshfield Fire & Rescue Offers Fireplace Safety Tips

Few comforts rival sitting by a warm fire on a cold winter night, but with heating equipment being one of the leading cause of home fire deaths, it’s important to exercise safety while getting cozy. Half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February.

“We haven’t really had a great lot of chimney fires lately, so that’s a good thing as it means most people are taking care of them,” said Marshfield Fire & Rescue Chief Bob Haight. “When I first started, a lot of people were using fireplaces to heat up a huge chunk of their house. We went to houses once or twice a week.”

Though there has been a decline in chimney fires throughout the years, homeowners should continue to be vigilant when it comes to using their fireplaces. Whether the fireplace is composed of metal or masonry, creosote buildup in the chimney is continually creating a potential fire risk.

Haight recommends annual chimney cleanings by a professional, keeping a screen up in the fireplace, and creating a “kid-free” zone around the fireplace itself.

“If you know what to look for, you can clean the chimney yourself but I really don’t recommend that,” he said. “If you get a professional to come in and clean the fireplace, they can also do an inspection and can explain exactly how to use it and use it safely.”

Proper usage and regular cleaning can prevent a catastrophe, and enlisting the help of an expert is recommended.

Learn more! http://www.nfpa.org/education
Learn more! http://www.nfpa.org/education

“I don’t think a lot of people know what to look for,” said Haight. “If you don’t know what to look for, it’s real tough to recognize when things are going bad until it’s too late.”

Haight also reminds homeowners that installing and maintaining CO alarms saves lives, and are required by Wisconsin state law to be installed on each level of a home.

“CO is also a byproduct of when things aren’t working right in your fireplace,” he said. Those who smell gas in their gas heater should immediately leave the home and call the fire department or gas company.

Haight recommends calling 2-1-1 for information on chimney cleaning, and of course calling the fire department (715-486-2094 if non-emergency) with questions or concerns. If an emergency, dial 9-1-1.