SFD: Prep your fireplace before sparking up the logs

There’s finally a chill in the air and thoughts of firing up the logs in the fireplace are tempting.  However, fireplaces and chimneys are involved in 42 percent of all home heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Every season we are called to assist residents who need help with an issue caused by their fireplace,” says Scottsdale Fire Deputy Chief Mark Zimmerman. "Sometimes it’s simply because they forgot to open the flue. Other times, it is significantly more serious.”  

Keep your holidays and winter season from getting smoked out by following these simple steps from Scottsdale Fire and the NFPA to prep your fireplace before sparking up the logs.

  • Clean out the chimney from all its soot and debris at least once a year.  
  • Check the structure for cracks, loose bricks or missing mortar.
  • Cap the chimney with wire-mesh covers to keep out animals, weather and debris.
  • Select dense, seasoned wood to burn.  Green wood can build up creosote that can cause chimney fires.
  • Keep fires small so they don’t burn too hot and crack the chimney.
  • Use kindling rather than flammable liquids to start the fire.
  • Use a spark guard to keep errant embers from shooting out of the firebox

“And finally, ensure there are working smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm in the house,” says Zimmerman. “These simple devices can save lives.”

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