As cooler weather approaches, many area residents are beginning to use their woodstoves and fireplaces for the first time this season. The Hooksett Office of Emergency Management and the Hooksett Fire Department is offering some safety tips for the proper use and operation of these appliances.
Regardless if you are using a woodstove or your fireplace, have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not removed through cleaning. Cracks in the flue or mortar joints can allow flames and heated gases to extend into your home. The use of properly seasoned firewood will reduce creosote build up.
Always protect your home and family by using a sturdy fireplace screen. Remember to burn only wood. Never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out of your chimney and ignite your roof or cause a fire in the woods and grass around your home. Do not use flammable liquids in your fireplace or wood stove. If you are decorating your fireplace with Christmas stockings or other seasonal decorations, be very cautious and try to avoid using your fireplace while it is decorated.
If you are installing a wood or pellet stove, be sure your stove bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory and meets all local and state fire codes. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper installation. Expert advice is often required.
If you are currently have a wood-burning stove, the following precautions can reduce the possibility of a fire or injury. All wood stoves should be cleaned and inspected before the heating season begins. Inspect the door and latches to ensure they properly close and examine all attached flue pipes to be certain that the joints and seams are tight fitting.
When disposing of the ashes created by your stove, remember that the ashes need to be thoroughly dampened, cooled, and stored in metal cans that are used solely for ash storage. Do not dispose of them in a compost pile, cartons, boxes, or anything else that is combustible. Be cautious with storing your firewood. Do not stack or store your wood against your stove. The stove must be kept at least 36 inches away from any combustible material, if not, fire-resistant materials are used to protect woodwork and other combustible surfaces.
Heating remains the #1 cause of structure fires in New Hampshire! The Hooksett Fire Department recommends that you contact them with any questions concerning wood stove use and operation. They will gladly inspect the installation of your stove to be certain that you have followed all of the necessary guidelines. Hooksett Fire can be reached at 623-7272 or by clicking here.