Fireplace Safety Tips for Apartment Tenants

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These fireplace safety tips will allow you peace of mind as an apartment tenant.

Every year there are 14,000 fireplace fires that become out of control and end up catching houses and apartment buildings on fire. Safety is paramount, but there are some relatively easy ways to ensure your safety and still get to enjoy the crackling blaze of a wood fire. 

Fireplace Safety Tips

  • Make sure the chimney was cleaned when you moved in, and once per year after that. Creosote buildup in chimneys is the leading cause of apartment and house fires from fireplaces, so this is a mandatory stipulation to bring up with your landlord. 
  • Do not put decorations in front of the fireplace when it is lit, or for several hours after it goes out. Heat will linger here and can ignite decorations without your knowledge. 
  • Always use the metal mesh screen when you light a fire. Sparks can fly out and ignite you or your furniture otherwise. 
  • Never use gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquids to jump start your fire. 
  • Do not build a roaring fire that exceeds the capacity of your fireplace. Smaller fires that burn completely are better. 
  • Using manufactured logs is a good idea, but only burn one at a time. 
  • Do not use manufactured logs as a starter log for other woods.
  • Do not burn trash in the fireplace. 
  • Store firewood far away from the fireplace. 
  • Put ashes in a metal container and soak them with water to make sure they will not ignite anything. Only then can you dispose of them in the trash. 
  • Do not leave the fire burning when you go to sleep. Put it out completely and close the glass doors before calling it a night. 
  • Make sure the flue is open before you light a fire. Otherwise, smoke will fill your house and create a dangerous situation. 
  • If you do not use a manufactured log, use only seasoned hardwoods. Soft, wet wood adds layers of creosote to the chimney. 
  • Use a supporting grate and place the logs to the rear of the fireplace. 
  • Install or ask the landlord to install smoke alarms in every area of your home, especially the area between the fireplace and the bedrooms. 
  • Never soak a rolled newspaper in flammable liquids to start a fire. This is extremely dangerous, can cause a strong flare up or explosion. 
  • Artificial logs can become hazardous if they are disrupted by a poker. Never disturb an artificial log. Simply light and enjoy a fire you don’t have to tend. 
  • If you want to use newspaper to aid in the fire, roll it up and soak it in water. Then let it dry for two weeks before using it to start a fire, and you will have a nicer burning ‘”log”.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fire. 

The Most Common Causes of Fires

  • Creosote buildup
  • Damage to the fireplace, like missing bricks or cracked mortar you can see through
  • Obstructed flues (no air flow)
  • Ignition of nearby items such as decorations
  • Flying sparks

If you follow these tips, you can warm yourself by a crackling fire without any danger.

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