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Bennett gives fire safety tips

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brazil Fire Department Fire Chief Jake Bennett recently offered some tips to The Brazil Times he received from National Fire Protection and Safety Organizations in addition to some added warnings regarding home heating during winter months.

"The intent is to educate and remind the community of risks and precautions for home heating," Bennett said.

Bennett said as the temperatures drop and home heating costs rise, so do the number of alternative heat sources for homes. One of the alternative fuels is wood

More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, Bennett said many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.

"Heating fires account for 40 percent of winter home fires and is the second leading cause of year-round fires," he said. "Often, these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All heating systems require preventive maintenance to function safely and efficiently."

Bennett said the fire department encourages all to practice the following fire safety steps to keep the home fires safely burning.

The tips include:

* Having the chimney of wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist, including the flue and damper,

* Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials,

* Open the damper and flue before lighting the fire,

* Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney,

* Close the glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting in the room. Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen, which should be closed when the glass doors are open. The mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out the fireplace,

* Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door,

* Never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise, creosote buildup may take place, which could lead to a chimney fire,

* Never use flammable liquids to start a fire,

* Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup,

* Keep the fire in proportion to the unit,

* Install a spark arrestor on top of the chimney,

* Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in the fireplace or wood stove,

* Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the home,

* Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Places ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least 10-feet away from the home or nearby buildings. Never empty directly into a trash can. Saturate the ashes with water,

* Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment, and

* Install smoke alarms in every level of the home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Change the batteries at least once a year.

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