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Chimney fire prevention urged by City

Article Published 12/14/2009

Dec. 14, 2009

LAYTON — A wood fire is something that can be enjoyed on a cold winter night. But unless you operate your wood-burning appliance properly, a chimney fire may be the result.

According to the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the following steps can be taken to reduce the risk of a chimney fire:

Choose a wood-burning stove or fireplace that has been investigated by a recognized testing organization like UL. This means the unit has met product safety standards set by UL in conformance with the applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Installation Standard.

Match the amount of space you want to heat with the proper stove or fireplace size to heat that space efficiently.

Check local fire and building codes and read manufacturers’ instructions carefully.

Inspect your chimney for creosote buildup. The NFPA suggests that you allow no more than 1/4 inch of creosote to build up before cleaning. Using your fireplace two to three times a week during the winter may accumulate that 1/4 inch every two years. Fireplace stoves and room heaters used regularly can accumulate creosote in a short period of time.

Be smart. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected periodically by a professional chimney sweep to help prevent a fire.

Keep all combustible materials at least three feet from the fire. Be sure to open the damper of your stove or fireplace before lighting it.

Burn small, hot fires to cut down on creosote buildup and increase the efficiency of your heating.

Use only wood or other solid fuels recommended by the manufacturer. Deposit all ashes in a metal container with a lid to reduce the risk of igniting smoldering coals.

Do not start the fire by using flammable liquids.

Be sure NOT to add insulation in the air spaces around a fireplace or chimney. These air spaces are needed for proper air flow.

Have smoke alarms installed and keep a multipurpose (A-B-C) fire extinguisher nearby.

If a chimney fire does occur, in all cases call the fire department immediately! Get others out of the house! If it is a small fire, you can try to put it out yourself, but it is best to leave this to the firefighters. If you try to put it out on your own, directing the fire extinguisher discharge up the chimney and then closing the damper can be effective.

After a chimney fire, be sure to have the chimney or stove inspected for damage before using it again.

It’s the season to enjoy your wood-burning appliance, but it’s up to you to use and maintain your heating equipment safely, including the chimney.

For additional information, please contact the City Fire Department (801) 336-3940.