Fireplaces and chimneys represent a significant source of home heating fires.
Rutherford County Fire Rescue (RCFR) is offering safety tips to fireplace users in hopes that residents can enjoy their glowing logs without incident.
“Fireplaces are traditionally warm and comforting,” said Fire Marshal Joshua Sanders, “but if not properly maintained, they can also be very dangerous.”
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that fireplaces or chimneys account for one out of every three home heating fires.
A sticky, oily, combustible substance called “creosote” is created when wood does not burn completely. Creosote rises into the chimney as a liquid and deposits on the interior walls, playing a role in 19 percent of all home heating fires each year.
RCFR responded to a chimney fire recently at Leanna Central Valley Road to discover fire coming from the roof and around the chimney and heavy smoke in the second division on the home. The fire was contained to the attic area, but due to the type of building construction of the home, firefighters had to use extensive efforts to make sure the fire was out.
“Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident,” said Captain Andy Haston who noted that the homeowner acknowledged the fireplace had not been cleaned or serviced in the 11 years he has owned the home.
“It is extremely important that fireplaces be inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified professional,” offered Sanders.
Other safety tips for fireplace use include:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, wood stove, or any other heating equipment.
- Create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
- Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present.
- Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container and kept at a safe distance from your home.
“Following these tips and having qualified professionals perform regular maintenance can significantly reduce your risk of a home heating fire and even injury or death,” mentioned Sanders.
He also expressed the importance of working smoke alarms in the home. “Having the correct amount of working smoke alarms in your home can cut your risk of home fire death in half.”
RCFR offers free smoke alarm installation. Contact 615-867-4626 to make an appointment.
For more heating fire safety advice from NFPA and USFA, visit www.nfpa.org/winter.