Fireplace Safety Tips

Fire Safety is important all year round, but becomes even more important during fall and winter when many of us are using space heaters, candles, fireplaces and stoves more frequently. These simple tips can help reduce fire hazards and keep you, friends, and family safer while operating your fireplace, stove, or insert.

Maintain Your Fireplace

Like anything else, fireplaces must undergo yearly maintenance to ensure the safety of your family.

Tips for Safe Operation for wood stoves or fireplaces in particular:

  • An annual inspection by a chimney specialist is helpful in determining if there are cracks in the flue lining, bricks and mortar.
  • Any structural problems should be repaired prior to operating the fireplace.
  • Ask your chimney sweep professional to check for obstructions (such as a birds nest) and to inspect the chimney for creosote buildup.
  • Make sure your fire alarms have fresh batteries and are in working order by testing them monthly!
  • Install a type ABC fire extinguisher near the fireplace.
  • Keep combustible materials such as carpets, furniture, paper, logs and kindling at least 3-feet away from the fireplace.
  • Arrange grate and irons so logs can’t roll out.
  • Use only enough wood to keep the fire at the desired temperature.
  • Avoid roaring fires. They can start chimney fires from soot and creosote deposits in the flue.
  • Do not use gasoline or other flammable liquids to kindle or rekindle a fire.
  • Flammable vapors can explode! Any flammable liquids, including those from craft projects can vaporize and travel the length of a room!
  • Keep the damper open while the logs are burning to provide for efficient burning and to prevent accumulation of poisonous or explosive gases.
  • Never burn Christmas tree greens. They cause many sparks when burning and can cause a chimney or house fire.
  • Remove colored comic sections before rolling newspapers into logs. The colored inks that are non-soy based may include other chemicals.
  • Do not use coal, charcoal or polystyrene packaging in a fireplace. Unless the fireplace is designed to handle the excess heat and smoke, which occurs when burning these materials.
  • Do not treat artificial logs the same way you treat real wood logs. Use only one at a time.
  • If you use more, they can produce too much heat for some fireplaces to withstand.
  • Keep children away from the fire! For younger children, special gates, etc. can be purchased to further increase the distance between the fire and your child.
  • Be sure all ashes have thoroughly cooled before you dispose of them. Put ashes in a lidded metal container to prevent a possible fire and provide a sturdy place to store them.
  • Ashes make good fertilizer in gardens, flowerbeds, etc.
  • Be sure the fire is out completely before retiring for the evening.

Fireplace Facts

  • The glass barrier of a gas fireplace door can heat up to more than 200º F in approximately 6 minutes.
  • It takes an average of 45 minutes for the gas fireplace glass to cool to a safe temperature after a burning fire has been extinguished.
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado Burn Center has seen a 50% increase in burns of the hand from gas fireplace glass doors since 2006.