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Front Page » January 10, 2006 » Local News » Fire department addresses fireplace safety
Published 3,560 days ago

Fire department addresses fireplace safety

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It seems that more than ever wood burning stoves and fireplaces are in vogue in the county.

"With the ever increasing cost of fuel prices, most of us are looking for ways to conserve energy and save money," says Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont. "An option many citizens of Carbon County have turned to is a wood burning stove or fireplace. A properly installed and operated wood stove and fireplace can be a safe and efficient source of heat."

But Bedont also cautions residents with any heating appliance, there are precautions which must be taken in order to keep residents homes and families safe.

"Every year, firefighters respond to house and chimney fires which have been caused by the improper installation, improper use, or neglect of wood burning appliances, " he states. "Before lighting a fire in any stove or fireplace, make sure the appliance and chimney are clean and in proper working condition. If you are unsure of the condition, have them inspected by a licensed professional. Most stove manufacturers recommend the stove and chimney be cleaned and inspected at least once a year."

Bedont has a few safety tips which will help to safely operate a wood burning stove and fireplace.

"I highly recommend you install multiple smoke detectors in your home," he says. " If you have smoke detectors and can't remember when you last changed the batteries, put fresh batteries in them today. A house fire will double in size every 30-60 seconds and smoke detectors can and do save lives, by giving you advanced warning."

Bedont also says that fire extinguishers are a must.

"Purchase at least one fire extinguisher for your home and place it in an easily accessible location," he states.

"If you choose to burn coal in your stove, make sure your appliance is rated for the higher temperatures which coal produces."

Bedont also says to be sure there is enough clearance between the stove and combustible materials,including floors, walls, and ceilings. And also place the stove on a noncombustible, fire-resistant base.

The fuel that a person burns is also important.

"Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood," he explained. "This helps to prevent creosote buildup, which can lead to a chimney fire. Don't burn pressure treated wood, painted wood, drift wood, particle board, plywood, plastic, magazines, colored paper, gift wrap, cardboard, or garbage."

Residents should also place a screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from escaping onto the rug or furniture.

"Have a pair of heat-proof gloves and fireplace implements ready in case you have to pick-up a red hot ember that has fallen out of the stove or fireplace," he says.

The chief also said to keep the fireplace damper fully open when the fireplace is in use. This also helps to prevent creosote buildup on chimney walls.

Disposal of ashes is also a problem at times. Dispose of ashes properly after they are allowed to cool and placed in a closed metal container outside and away from the home.

Starting a fire can be a mystery to many people. Bedont cautions that starting it the wrong way can be dangerous.

"Don't start a stove or fireplace fire with flammable fluids, such as gasoline," he notes. And don't leave your children unattended near your stove or fireplace."

Bedont also pointed out that people shouldn't use artificial logs in wood burning stoves.

"They are intended for fireplaces only," he says. "Last of all, If you suspect you have a house fire, exit the home and call 911 from a safe location."

For more information on any of these facts, contact your local fire department.

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