Safety is key when using wood stoves, fireplaces
PARSONS, KS — Because of the cost of energy, many residents are turning to wood stoves and fireplaces as a common source of supplementary heat in homes, but careful attention to safety can minimize fire hazard.
Parsons Fire Chief, Larry Steeby, reminds residents that when installing wood stoves, like any other heat source, a permit and subsequent inspection is required.
“It is always a good idea to check with your homeowner’s insurance agent to make sure your policy allows for wood burning stoves,” Steeby adds. “If you are considering installing a wood stove, the city offers an informational pamphlet from the City Code Enforcement Office that could help you tremendously.”
In addition to the available booklet, the U.S. Fire Administration offers the following tips to use a fireplace or wood stove safely:
· Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
· Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be laboratory tested.
· Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
· Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
· Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
· The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
· Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
· Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
· Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
· Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
· If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
“These are all great tips,” Steeby said. “You can never be too safe around wood burning stoves and fireplaces. All homes should be equipped with smoke detectors, at the very least.”
Steeby added that it’s a good idea for homes to also have a multi-purpose fire extinguisher, and a carbon monoxide detector.
“Remembering these tips and being prepared could ultimately save your life,” Steeby said.
For a copy of the informational booklet about wood stoves and the requirements specific to Parsons, please call 620-421-7020.