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SafetyTIPS: Heating Safely with Solid Fuels - Chimney, Wood, Coal, and Pellet Stoves

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Heating Safely with Solid Fuels - Chimney, Wood, Coal, and Pellet Stoves

With the rising cost associated with heating homes, there is the temptation to utilize alternative sources of heating. However, be sure not to overlook critical safety issues while using alternative heating sources in your homes.

Proper Use of Wood, Coal, and Pellet Stoves

  • Most chimney fires occur because of a build-up of creosote, a tarry by-product of burning wood. Have your chimney flue cleaned before each heating season. Burn only dry, well seasoned, hardwood to reduce creosote accumulation.  Be sure this wood is cut to the appropriate size to fit completely inside the fire box with the door or screen closed.
  • Don’t use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Never use a liquid fueled or propane type heating device indoors.  This type of equipment produces carbon monoxide which is odorless and deadly after exposure for a short period of time.
  • Never leave children unattended near the stove or fireplace.
  • Check that the damper is open before lighting the fire. A closed damper will result in an accumulation of smoke and carbon monoxide in the home. Do not close the damper until the fire is out and the embers are cold.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent flying sparks and embers from falling out on to the floor.
  • Install and maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to provide protection for your family.
  • Follow all manufacturers installation and operating instructions for woodstoves, pellet stoves and fireplace type equipment.  A permit from BDS is required for the installation of all these types of solid fuel burning equipment.

Live Embers

To prevent fires from ashes, ashes that are cleaned out from the stove or fireplace should be shoveled into a metal bucket with a metal lid and placed outside on the ground on a non-combustible surface away from the building. There have been many recent fires from ashes stored underneath a deck or porch or inside the garage or from ashes stored in cardboard boxes. A live ember can continue to smolder unnoticed for quite some time.

Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Install smoke alarms to warn of a fire, but also have carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home to warn about deadly fumes from a faulty furnace, fireplace, and oven flue or other venting problem. Problems with heating systems is the #1 source of carbon monoxide in homes.   


It’s not about saving lives; it’s about saving your life.

December 9, 2009 

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