Check fireplaces for creosote: fire chief

Windsor, Brooklyn firefighters extinguish King Street chimney fire




SaltWire Network


If you rely on a wood-burning fireplace for home heating, it’s a good idea to get the chimney cleaned out more than once a year. So reminds Windsor’s fire chief, Jamie Juteau, following a chimney fire on King Street Jan. 4. Around mid-morning, a passerby alerted the homeowner to the fire after spotting flames flickering near the top of the chimney. Juteau said upon arrival, there were no visible flames outside the building. There was a fire inside the chimney, which firefighters extinguished. To ensure there was no fire extension in the older home, Juteau said they “searched all floors with thermal imagers” and set up their aerial truck at the rear of the building. The snorkel truck provided limited access to the chimney, so Brooklyn’s aerial ladder truck was also called in, he said. “It was a pretty run of the mill chimney fire. It just took a little bit of time to make sure we crossed all the T’s,” said Juteau. While chimney fires are often reported near the beginning or end of the heating season, Juteau said it’s not unusual to receive calls for assistance throughout the year. “I’ve had them in July before,” he said. Juteau said the best thing a homeowner who relies on wood heat can do is to keep the chimney free of creosote build-up and have it regularly inspected. “Make sure that you have a carbon monoxide detector in your house for any kind of fuel-burning appliance. Make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly,” said Juteau. If a wood-burning fireplace is your sole source of heat, Juteau said having it cleaned more than once a year is wise. “For inspection, at least once a year, and the cleaning really depends on how much you use it and if you’re burning the proper seasoned wood,” he said. “The more you use it, the more you should clean it, and use a WETT-certified person to do that.” A Wood Energy Technology Transfer-certified professional can determine if your wood-burning appliance is showing any wear and tear and requires repair, as well as remove creosote build-up. It’s recommended that homeowners only burn seasoned, dry firewood as it burns hotter and creates less creosote and to start fires using dry newspaper or kindling. The Canadian Safety Council encourages residents to keep a working fire extinguisher nearby and have smoke detectors installed and a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping quarters. “Carbon monoxide buildup can occur if the area around your wood-burning unit is inadequately ventilated. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headaches and nausea,” the safety society’s website notes. “If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, get out of the building immediately and find out what needs to be done to correct the ventilation problem.”