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fireplace safety - EdmontonFire Prevention Tips – General:

The fireplace in your home is a source of warmth and relaxation for your family and friends. Like any home appliance, it should be safe, properly maintained, and good for the environment-inside and out. Being good to the environment also means making sure your fireplace habits are safe and will not pose a danger to your home or your neighborhood.

1. Clear the area around the fireplace and chimney:

  • Debris too close to the fireplace could cause a fire.
  • Check the flue for obstructions like birds' nests, and trim any overhanging branches or large trees near the chimney.

2. Always use a fireplace screen.

3. Never overload the fireplace:

  • Never overload the fireplace with too many logs.
  • Don't use the fireplace as an incinerator.
  • Never burn garbage, plastic, "treated" wood, Christmas trees, or piles of paper.

4. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and place smoke detectors throughout the house.

  • Test the smoke detectors and batteries regularly.
  • See that the fire extinguisher is in good working order and that all family members know how to operate it.

5. When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace, preferably on a grate.

6. Never leave a fire unattended.

  • Be sure the fire is extinguished before you go to bed.

7. Keep wood stacked, covered, and outdoors,

  • Store your wood away from the house and off the ground.
  • Bring in only as much as you need for one evening to prevent insects that may be in the wood from entering your home.
  • Manufactured fire logs, which are packaged to eliminate insects and mess, can also prevent this problem.

8. Minimize creosote buildup which causes chimney fires.

  • Creosote is the black tarry or flaky substance formed in chimneys during the wood burning process.
  • While firewood leaves flammable creosote and carbon deposits on chimney wells, tests show firelogs leave significantly less creosote accumulation than wood.

9. Have your fireplace inspected.

  • Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned annually.
  • A dirty fireplace can cause chimney fires or contribute to air pollution.


A Fireplace becomes dangerous when accumulated tar or creosote catches fire or from uncontrolled burning or over-fuelling. Other causes of fireplace-related fires are substandard design or installation and lack of safety precautions.

  1. Open the damper before lighting the fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool enough to touch.
  2. Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  3. Do not store combustible materials such as paper or wood too close to the fireplace.
  4. Use a screen in front of the fireplace opening to protect children and to prevent embers from escaping and igniting carpets, etc.
  5. Use dry, well-seasoned wood in small amounts.
  6. Have chimneys cleaned and serviced at regular intervals by a professional.
  7. Never overload your fireplace.
  8. Never use charcoal starter fluids, gasoline or any flammable substance to start fires.
  9. Always place the ashes in a metal container and take them outside the house.

Fire Prevention Tips – Keeping Children Safe:
The glass barrier on your gas fireplace can heat up to over 200°C (400°F) in about six minutes during use. It takes an average of 45 minutes for the fireplace to cool to a safe temperature after the fire is switched off.

Place a barrier around your gas fireplace
Install safety gates around the gas fireplace or at doorways to the room that has the fireplace. Young children, under five years of age, and especially those under two years, are most at risk. When young children are learning to walk, they often fall. Hands and fingers are burned on the glass and metal parts of the door as young children raise their arms to stop their fall. Also, young children are attracted to the flames and want to touch it.

Supervise your child
Never leave a young child alone near a fireplace as they can be burned before, during and after use of the fireplace. Teach children about the dangers of fire and supervise them at all times.


Burn Smart, Burn Clean

1. Choose the right fuel.

  • In general, hardwood firewood (oak, hickory, ash, etc.) burns cleaner than softwood firewood (fir, pine, cedar, etc.).

2. Use seasoned wood

  • Wood with a moisture content of less than 20 percent, burns much cleaner than green (high moisture content) wood.
  • Check with your cordwood supplier to make sure that the wood you purchase is seasoned.

3. Burn smart.

  • Good fireplace habits can decrease fuel consumption in the home while maintaining the same level of warmth.
  • Make sure the fire gets enough air to burn properly.
  • Close the damper when the fire is out to keep warm room air inside.

4. Make a fire that fits your fireplace.

  • A fire that's too large or too hot not only wastes fuel but it can crack your chimney.

5. Keep your fireplace in good working condition.

  • For metal fireplaces, if you notice your chimney swelling or bulging, contact a professional as soon as possible.
  • If you notice a crack in your glass on your gas fireplace or if any unit that you have shows signs of wear or does not seem to be working properly, arrange a service call.
  • If you notice any cracks in the chimney, and any loose mortar or brick, have your chimney repaired.
  • Have the chimney liner inspected for cracking or deterioration.

6. Fire Logs

  • Read and follow the label when using firelogs.
  • Use one fire log at a time, starting it with a fireplace at room temperature.
  • Don't poke or break manufactured logs. This will cause them to crack apart, releasing their energy at a high rate and resulting in a shorter burn time.
  • Firelogs perform best when burned on a supporting fireplace grate with a maximum of three to four inches of space between support bars.
  • It is suggested that you do not use manufactured firelogs in an air-tight wood appliance.
  • If your fireplace is equipped with glass doors, leave them open while burning a firelog to allow proper draft and cleaner burning.
  • Once you're sure the fire is extinguished, close the damper and glass doors to retain warm air inside the house.



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