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Fire Safety Tips: Fireplace Safety in the Home

Now is as good a time as any to get your residential fireplace cleaned and serviced.

In light of last week's fire here in Garden City we find it important to touch briefly on the importance of fireplace safety in the home.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes.”

Many more use it as a supplemental heat source and decorative feature within their residence. Despite their beauty and ambiance, fireplaces pose a real safety risk when not proactively maintained and watched.

All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently. Similarly, fireplaces require the same attention. Through use, creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes often pose a risk for fire. As wood burns it releases smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon volatile, tar fog and assorted minerals that lead to this dangerous build up.

Without proper cleaning and maintenance this build up can lead to dangerous chimney fires. Chimney flue's are designed to expel the gas and heat; however, when the interior walls of a chimney catch fire due to creosote buildup, they can burn at high temperatures and melt mortar, crack tiles, cause liners to collapse and damage the outer masonry material.

Therefore, with the warmer weather rapidly approaching, now is as good a time as any to start thinking about getting your residential fireplace cleaned and serviced this spring by a certified chimney specialist. They will also have the ability to conduct a full overview of your fireplace, hearth and surrounding masonry to inspect for damage, stress and cracks that can pose a fire risk. For more information about fireplace safety visit http://www.monkeysee.com/play/16539-fireplace-safety, sponsored by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Brian Galaska is a 12-year veteran of the fire service. He has been employed by the Village of Garden City in the fire department's Headquarters Company for the past six years. He has a BS in fire arson investigation and an AS in fire occupational safety and health administration from University of New Haven.

An tUasal Airgead March 20, 2012 at 08:56 PM
When people are not at work they typically spend 60-70 percent of their time at home, and if they heat their home with wood they are potentially exposed to fine particle pollution. In addition to the smoke that can be released inside the home, studies show that an estimated 70 percent of smoke from chimneys can actually reenter the home and neighborhood dwellings. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including: • increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing; • decreased lung function; • aggravated asthma; • development of chronic bronchitis; • irregular heartbeat; • nonfatal heart attacks; and • premature death in people with heart or lung disease. People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. However, even healthy people may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution. http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/pdfs/woodsmoke_health_effects_jan07.pdf
B. Early April 15, 2012 at 11:23 PM
To tap into the last comment you could consider a ventless fireplace; both gel and gas are available and don't require wood combustion. Just make sure to follow ventless fireplace safety: http://www.ventless-fireplace.org/ventless-fireplace-safety/

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