SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — During the last two weeks of November, the Springfield Fire Department responded to two house fires related to improper maintenance of a fireplace.  

Here is a list of safety tips to help keep your family safe this holiday season:  

  • Be certain the damper or flue is open before starting a fire. Keeping the damper or flue open until the fire is out will draw smoke out of the house. The damper can be checked by looking up into the chimney with a flashlight or mirror. Do not close the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning. 
  • Use dry and well-aged wood that burns more evenly and with less smoke. Wet or green wood causes more smoke and contributes to soot buildup in the chimney.  
  • Clean out ashes from previous fires. Levels of ash at the base of the fireplace should be kept to 1 inch or less. 
  • The chimney should be checked annually by a professional. 
  • Even if the chimney is not due for cleaning, it is important to check for animal nests or other blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping. 
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable (ie: furniture, drapes, newspapers, books, etc.).  
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. 
  • Minimize your child’s chance of burns from the hot glass front of some fireplaces, including gas fireplaces. Safety screens can be installed to reduce the risk of burns. 
  • Put fireplace tools and accessories out of a young child’s reach. Also, remove any lighters and matches. Talk with children as early as possible the dangers of fires and the heat coming from them. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.