Archive for Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Clean chimneys help prevent fires

November 6, 2002

Before area residents light up their wood stoves and fireplaces, a local firefighter hopes they take the time to ensure chimneys and flues are safe.

"We recommend you have your flue checked out every year by a qualified person, such as a chimney sweep or a heating and air person," said Dave Bennett, Tonganoxie city deputy fire chief. "You should have it cleaned from the buildup of creosote."

Bennett also cautions people with fireplaces or heating stoves not to burn anything other than wood.

"Don't throw anything else in there, such as wrapping paper or other materials," he said. "The chemicals in them make them burn a lot hotter."

In addition, Bennett advocates using a spark screen.

"If you do suspect a flue fire, call 911," Bennett said. "Don't hesitate at all. In a steel flue, the creosote burns, and the radiant heat transfers out to the wooden structure. If it's a masonry flue, it can deteriorate the mortar between the flue pipes and then we have fire extension through the cracks into the structure."

Bennett also encourages all residents to check smoke detectors and install new smoke detectors and batteries, if necessary.

"We recommend one on every floor and one in every bedroom, preferably hard-wired and interconnected," Bennett said.

Detectors that are hard-wired into a home's electrical system are more dependable, he said, and they have battery back-ups so they work, even if electrical power is cut. And with interconnected systems, if one detector sounds, they all sound.

And it's worthwhile to have a fire evacuation plan.

"Discuss it with your children," Bennett said.

He said Tonganoxie firefighters will be glad to field questions about smoke detectors or other fire-related questions. They also can help families devise a fire evacuation plan.

For additional information, call the department, (913) 845-9494.

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