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Chimneys, Fireplaces & Wood Stoves

Chimney, Fireplace and Woodstove Fire Safety

Some of the major causes of house fires is using a stove or cooking appliance carelessly or improperly. Also improperly installed and maintained heating systems, faulty wiring, careless smoking, and children playing with matches. Your chimney and wood burning stove or appliance is another deadly cause if not properly installed and maintained.

Every year In Gloucester fire incidents involving solid fueled appliances, fireplaces, and chimneys are responsible for numerous civilian injuries, fire service injuries, tens of millions of dollars in property loss, and occasionally even deaths.

Purchasing a stove:
Be sure the stove you are purchasing to burn wood or coal is approved by Underwriter's Laboratory or another recognized testing laboratory.

  • A building permit must be obtained (from the Building Inspector...not the Fire Department) prior to the installation of fireplaces, wood or coal burning stoves and must be inspected by the local building inspector prior to their initial use as required by the Massachusetts State Building Code.
  • Allow at least 36 inches of clearance around the appliance to prevent combustibles from coming into contact with a heat source.
  • Solid fuel heating appliances cannot share a common flue with chimney flues utilized by other solid fuel, fossil fuel, or gas fired appliances.

Have the chimney and flue inspected by a qualified mason prior to use. Cracks in the flue or mortar joints can allow flames and heated gases to extend into the structure.

Proper Use
  • Most chimney fires occur due to 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.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start the fire.
  • Never leave children unattended near the stove.
  • Check that the damper is open before lighting the fire. Failure to do so can result in an accumulation of smoke and carbon monoxide within the home. Do not close the damper before the fire has died out and the embers are cold.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent flying sparks and embers from falling out onto the floor.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to provide protection for your family.

Proper Ash Disposal
Ashes cleaned out from the stove or fireplace should be shoveled into a metal bucket with a metal lid, placed outside, on the ground, away from the building, to prevent fires. Do not place ashes into a paper bag or cardboard box. Ashes and embers can stay hot for days and ignite combustibles repeat Ashes and embers can stay hot for days and ignite combustibles.


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