Starting and Maintaining a Safe Fire in the Fireplace

Now that you have bought that truck load of firewood for your fireplace and checked out the fireplace and chimney for safety, you are ready to build that first fire inside, or are you?

Here are a few safety rules to keep in mind. Around your fireplace, remove any newspapers, boxes or any other easily combustible material. They make several items to use in case of a chimney fire so it would be a good idea to have one available close by.

Talking about having something close by, do you know where your fire extinguisher is? If not, place one close to the fireplace and make sure it is charged.

Most of the problems associated with chimney fires, which is the most common cause of house fires using a fireplace, is the misuse of wood in the fireplace itself. I assume you have cleaned out the chimney first?

Make sure you don't have a roaring fire at the beginning that sends up sparks out the chimney -- that may cause the roof and leaves outside to catch on fire. The best way to avoid this is not to burn a lot of cardboard and paper through the fireplace.

To avoid creosote buildup in the chimney, which can easily catch on fire to give you a chimney fire, make sure you don't create a slow fire over a long period of time. It's when the chimney walls are cool that the creosote tends to cling and build up on the walls of the chimney.

It would be important to occasionally open up the vents and create a hotter fire to prevent that creosote buildup. For this reason, a mixture of green wood and seasoned wood is recommended rather than using a large percentage of greenwood in the fireplace.


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