GLOUCESTER — Chief Eric Smith and the Gloucester Fire Department wish to offer safety tips for chimneys and wood stoves as the winter season approaches.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, in 2018 there were 556 fires involving chimneys, fireplaces and wood stoves in the Commonwealth.
“The cold weather is here, and that means people are just starting or preparing to use their wood stoves and chimneys again,” Chief Smith said. “We’re encouraging residents to always remain careful while using these appliances, and review recommended safety tips. Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning are real risks when wood stoves and chimneys aren’t properly maintained and used.”
The Gloucester Fire Department wishes to share the following safety tips and reminders from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services:
- Only purchase a wood stove that is approved by a recognized testing laboratory, such as the Underwriter’s Laboratory.
- Before purchasing and installing a fireplace, wood or coal burning stove, residents are required to obtain a building permit. Massachusetts State Building Code also requires that, prior to using a new fireplace, wood or coal burning stove, a building inspector must visit and perform an inspection.
- Keep a minimum of 36 inches of space clear around the appliance to prevent fire.
- A common flue cannot be shared between solid fuel heating appliances with chimney flues that are being used by other solid fuel, fossil fuel or gas fired appliances.
- A qualified mason should be contacted to inspect the chimney and flue prior to use.
- To prevent the build-up from burnt wood that causes the majority of chimney fires, have the chimney flue cleaned annually, before the winter sets in. Only burn dry, well-seasoned hardwood to lessen build-up.
- Flammable liquids should not be used to start fires.
- Children should never be left unsupervised near a stove.
- Before lighting a fire, check that the damper is open to prevent an accumulation of smoke and carbon monoxide indoors. Do not close the damper before the fire has gone out and the embers are cold.
- To prevent flying sparks and embers from falling out, use a fireplace screen.
- Install and regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Change the batteries regularly.
- Shovel any ashes from a stove or fireplace into a metal bucket with a metal lid, and store the bucket outdoors, on the ground, away from the building.
For more information, visit www.mass.gov/service-details/chimney-and-woodstove-safety