MERRIMAC — Fire Chief Larry Fisher and the Merrimac Fire Department would like to offer residents safety tips for maintaining chimneys and preventing chimney fires this season.
“We would like to stress the importance of our residents having their chimneys inspected and cleaned annually by certified individuals,” Chief Fisher said. “Ensuring that your chimney is properly functioning will go a long way in ensuring your family’s safety when heating your home during the winter months.”
According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS), 570 fire incidents involving chimneys, fireplaces and woodstoves occurred in Massachusetts in 2019. These fires resulted in an estimated $2 million in property losses.
How To Prevent a Chimney Fire:
- Have your chimney cleaned annually by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires.
- Have your chimney inspected annually even if you don’t use your chimney often. A chimney inspection can help prevent carbon monoxide and chimney fires, and can identify potential system issues to address before they become dangerous or costly.
- Ensure there are no prior damages to your chimney that may impact its ability to work safely.
- Be sure to properly dispose of ashes from chimneys and stoves.
- Be sure that the damper of the chimney is open before lighting a fire.
- Use a fireplace screen to prevent flying sparks and embers from falling out onto the floor.
- Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
Signs of a Chimney Damaged by a Chimney Fire:
- “Puffy” or “honey combed” creosote
- Warped metal of the damper, metal smoke chamber connector pipe or factory-built metal chimney
- Cracked or collapsed flue tiles, or tiles with large chunks missing
- Discolored and/or distorted rain cap
- Heat-damaged TV antenna attached to the chimney
- Creosote flakes and pieces found on the roof or ground
- Roofing material damaged from hot creosote
- Cracks in exterior masonry
- Evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners
Operating a chimney that has previously experienced a fire is a safety risk. If you suspect that your chimney has been impacted by fire, call a certified sweep to assess damages and make recommendations for repairs to ensure your chimney is safe.
Chimney fires can burn intensely and can spread to other parts of a house. Many chimney fires are slow-burning and may not get enough air or fuel to be visible. However, slow-burning fires can reach very high temperatures and can cause extensive damage to a chimney’s structure or other parts of the house.
If you or a family member hear loud cracking or popping noises, see dense smoke or notice an intense, hot smell coming from your chimney, call 911 immediately.
For more information or questions, contact the Merrimac Fire Department at 978-346-8211.