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South Fire District, Middletown, CT

Heating Safety Tips

With colder weather and unpredictable fuel prices, many people seek alternative heating sources. The South Fire District would like to remind residents of some basic safety tips regarding fireplaces and wood stoves.

Remember you can always contact the firehouse 860-347-6661 or the Middletown Building Department with any concerns.

More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.

Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

• Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.

• Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.

• Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.

• Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.

• Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.

• Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

Safely Burn Fuels

• Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.

• Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.

• Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.

• Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.

• When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.

• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

• Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.

Protect the Outside of Your Home

• Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.

• Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.

• Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.

• Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

Protect the Inside of Your Home

• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.

• Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.

• Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.

(Information on this page is provided courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration)