Did you know that chimney fires are the most common fire emergencies this time of the year? – As our weather cools, and you begin enjoying your roaring fire, there are important safety tips you should know.
Each year, Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) is called to between 7 and 15 chimney fires. As these fires can easily spread – having already destroyed too many homes on Salt Spring – why not Burn it Smart to prevent fires 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 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. Smouldering 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 how to Burn it Smart, chimneys, or wood-burning:
Please visit the Ganges Fire Hall or phone 250-537-2531
Burn it Smart Tip of the Week: Chimney Safety
Lt. Mitchell Sherrin,
Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR)