Communiqué concerning the risks associated with chimney fires

Communiqué concerning the risks associated with chimney fires

The winter season is here and residents have started heating with fireplaces or wood burning stoves. With this type of heating comes responsibilities to be safe and avoid the possibility of a chimney or house fire.

Each year there are about 1,200 chimney fires in Quebec which represents a potential for a house fire that could incur material and life loss. In addition, there are about 235 house fires caused by improper installation and maintenance of a fireplaces or wood stoves.

The Hudson Fire Department would like to recommend the following procedures:

New Fireplace:

  • The installation of a fireplace or wood stove must be done by a certified installer.
  • There are minimum clearances that must be followed according to manufacturer’s instructions for different types of stoves.

Inspection of existing fireplace or stove:

  • The inspection and cleaning must be done by a qualified and certified chimney sweeper.
  • The chimney sweeper must clean and inspect your installation for any type of damage or non-conformities.
  • The chimney sweeper must remove any build-up of Creosote that may accumulate during the heating season.
  • Have it cleaned once a year or approx. every 5 chords burnt.

Before your first fire:

  • Check your chimney for any obstructions with a mirror and flashlight (bird nest, creosote, etc.).
  • Visually inspect your masonry and joints for any evidence of damage.

Why have your chimney cleaned:

  • Removal of creosote (by-product of improper combustion).
  • Prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide entering the home.
  • Increase the efficiency of the wood burning installation.
  • Best time to clean chimney is in the spring as the creosote is easier to remove from the chimney instead of solidifying all summer long.

Avoid the possibility of a chimney fire that could lead to a house fire:

  • Ash and cinders must be removed from the fireplace or stove with incombustible tools and placed in a metal bucket.
  • Cover the bucket with an incombustible metal cover and place outside on an incombustible surface away from the home or any other structure.
  • Allow 3-7 days before disposing of the ash.
  • Ash and cinders produce carbon monoxide (an odourless, tasteless gas) and therefore must be stored outside away from living areas.

Other information:

  • Always start your fire with paper and dry kindling.
  • Never ignite with combustible liquids or gas.
  • Use dried wood for your fire. Wet or green wood promotes creosote build up.
  • Keep combustible items away from the area around your heating source.