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FireSmart Tip of the Week: Chimney Safety

    Fire & Police    December 1, 2017

How Safe is Your Lovely Roaring Fire? – Did you know that chimney fires are the most common fire emergencies this time of the year?

In partnership with the Salt Spring Conservancy, SSIFR will offer a free workshop: Burn it Right” at the Library on Sunday, December 10 from 3:00 – 4:30 so that you can learn everything you need to know about using your wood stove safely and efficiently.

Interested in learning more right now? Each year, our Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) is called to between 7 and 15 chimney fires. As these fires can easily spread, already having destroyed too many homes on Salt Spring, it is simply FireSmart to take steps to prevent them in your chimney.

The best way to prevent chimney fires is to:

  • Clean, maintain, and inspect your chimney at least once a year.

Chimney fires are caused by accumulations of creosote, solidified flammable particulates from wood smoke. These deposits can generally be removed by annual cleanings, although chimneys with unusual configurations or extra heavy use may need care more often. When was your chimney last cleaned?

  • Burn only clean and well-seasoned wood.

Burning wet or unseasoned wood creates additional creosote in your chimney. Also, never burn garbage, treated wood, or driftwood as they can create and ignite creosote. They can also release toxins and acids that are unhealthy for you and your family as well as damaging to your chimney and wood-burning appliances.

Also, your fires should be small and hot. Smoldering fires produce little heat and create lazy smoke that condenses in the chimney to form flammable creosote.

What else should I know about my fires to be safe?

Remember, carbon monoxide, an invisible and odourless gas, is created when you burn wood. Be sure to install and maintain a carbon-monoxide alarm so that you can enjoy your fire without worry.

What do I do if I hear a loud roaring noise? As this is the first sign of a chimney fire, see if clouds of black smoke or sparks are coming from the top of your chimney. Then, evacuate your home, close the damper if possible, and call 911.

Questions? For further information about chimneys or wood-burning, visit the Ganges Fire Hall or phone 250-537-2531.

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