It’s cooling off, even if you’re not ready, make sure your home is.

November 17, 2016

Wolfe Insurance Group

Categories: House Fire Safety

While most of us never think about our fireplace or chimney, before you turn on the fire on a nice autumn evening it’s important to make sure everything is ready for an open flame.


You should inspect your fireplace and chimney annually.


Home heating fires are the second leading cause of home fire deaths after cooking fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fireplaces, chimneys and flues account for a significant number of home heating fires.

Homeowners with a wood-burning fireplace or solid fuel stove or insert can protect your property and your family by having a qualified professional inspect and clean your chimney at least annually to prevent a buildup of creosote.

Not sure what Creosote is?

Creosote is a tarry residue or solid organic compound caused by incomplete combustion of wood that can build up in chimneys and ignite a chimney fire. A heavily used fireplace or stove may require periodic cleaning throughout the heating season. NFPA statistics show that failure to clean creosote from chimneys was the leading factor in 30 percent of the home heating equipment fires between 2009 and 2013.

Most people aren’t using their fireplace often enough to clean during the winter, but year over year most people definitely are and it’s very simple to have an inspection to assure you are safe.

Outside of cleaning your home heating equipment, it’s important to have the proper safety measures in place to keep you safe while having a fire.

The U.S. Fire Administration offers a series of videos showing how to safely build and tend a fire.

Additional tips for safe fireplace and wood stove use:

  • There are many aesthetically pleasing sturdy glass or metal screens to stop sparks from flying into the room, be sure to purchase one.
  • Inspect your fireplace’s flue prior to use for any obstructions or blockage by using a flashlight and looking up the flue. This also assures that the flue’s damper control is open prior to lighting the fire.
  • This seems like common sense, but keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the fireplace or wood stove. NFPA statistics show 56 percent of fires resulting in home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.
  • Put in place kid friendly rules like: Only adults should build and tend a fire.  Or enforce a three-foot “kid-free zone” around fireplaces and wood stoves.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for inserts. For fireplaces and wood stoves, use only seasoned wood. Green wood increases creosote buildup.
  • Do not burn cardboard, wrapping paper or other rubbish in the fireplace or wood stove.
  • Within the home, never use lighter fluid or any flammable or combustible liquids to start the fire.
  • Make sure a fully charged fire extinguisher is nearby and accessible.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as recommended, change the batteries twice a year, and test them according to manufacturer’s recommendations, usually monthly.
  • Put out fireplace fires before going to sleep or leaving your home.
  • Allow ashes to cool prior to cleaning out a fireplace or wood stove. Ashes that seem cool may contain concealed hot embers for several days after your last fire. Place the ashes in a covered metal container and keep the container outdoors a safe distance away from your home or any buildings.Have fireplace inserts or wood stoves installed by a qualified professional who can meet the established NFPA 211 standard. Never attempt to install them yourself. According to the NFPA, 10 percent of fires involving heating appliances actually involve the ignition of structural members where flues or chimneys pass through a building’s wall.


These home safety tips can help reduce your risk of home fires, but it’s important to have the right coverage in place because accidents do happen.  Weston Wolfe, CEO of Wolfe Insurance Group is available to consult your home insurance needs and answer any questions you have.  Give us a call or fill out a quote form online below and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can.  Find out sooner than later if you’re in need of coverage or not.

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