Fireplaces/chimneys and space heaters leading cause of home fires

By: Brick Lewis Posted in Uncategorized



Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins reminds the citizens of the City of Columbia and Richland County that with the continued overnight lows at or below freezing temperatures through the weekend, to use caution while heating your homes as some heating sources that comfort us also is a leading cause of home fires and fire fatalities.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), half of all home-heating fires occur during the winter months. NFPA research shows that during 2011 home heating equipment was involved in more than 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated loss of more than 400 civilian deaths, more than 1,520 civilian injuries and roughly $893 million in direct property damage.

Since November 1, 2015 until January 21, 2016 the Columbia Fire Department has responded to approximately 80 structure fires six of which have been confirmed to be home heating fire related; one of which was fatal. The most recent two were associated with chimneys/fireplaces and could have been prevented by a professional cleaning and inspection of the chimney/fireplace.

Chief Jenkins and the Columbia Fire Department encourage citizens to follow these basic fire safety precautions and making small modifications to greatly reduce the risk of home heating fires.

•All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
•Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
•Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instruction. Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
•Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death.
•Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
•Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
•Turn space heaters off when you leave a room or go to sleep.
•Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
•Use metal container to dispose of hot embers/ashes from fire place and then place outside of your home away from all combustibles; including deck, fences and garage; then wet down embers/ashes
•Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
•Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
•Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.


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