Beaver Dam Fire Chief Talks Fire Safety

(Beaver Dam) With colder temperatures here to stay, it is again time to remember the principles of fire safety. Many people use fireplaces and wood stoves to heat their houses, but that can be dangerous if safety measures are not practiced. Beaver Dam Fire Chief Michael Wesle recommends those with a fireplace in their home to get their chimney inspected annually.

“Chimney fires, whether we’re talking about a kitchen fire in an oven any other sort of heating appliance, almost all the time we find that the fire starts not necessary because of a malfunction of something but because of cleanliness,” says Wesle. “Whether we’re talking about chimney’s, stoves, ovens, even when we got to pellet stoves or you go away from an actually fireplace and you go to maybe a wood burning insert or a wood stove, most of the time it comes back to making sure that its clean.”

Wesle says those inspections should be done by a certified professional.

“When it comes to your fireplace or wood burning appliance, that’s not necessarily something that I would recommend the homeowner [inspects],” says Wesle. “I would call a professional, have it cleaned professionally, and inspected professionally and they do that on a daily basis. They know what they are looking for and they have the equipment to do it. That would be our recommendation.”

Wesle notes that the only thing that should be burned in a fireplace is dry, seasoned wood.

“When you start talking about burning anything outside of [dry, seasoned wood], when you talk about even burning wood that is green, soft-wood, we do not recommend that,” says Wesle. “You’re going to get a lot of creosote. The problem with burning these things even when you go to cardboard, or paper, or garbage is they don’t burn as efficiently as that dry, hard wood. When you don’t have the efficient process of burning, what’s going to happen is you’re going to have insufficient combustion and you’re going to have a lot of buildup of soot and that creosote in your fireplace and that’s what’s going to eventually lead to a chimney fire.”

Wesle says to never leave a fire unattended and if you must leave your house, make sure the flames are fully extinguished. He also points out that it is important to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms if you plan to burn wood inside your home.