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Winter Fire Safety Tips

The winter months are generally the deadliest months of the year for home fires due to the increased use of alternative heating sources as the temperatures drop.  Fireplaces and wood stoves provide warmth and enjoyment, but can also be a danger.  Home heating is second only to cooking as the cause of home fires.  The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office suggests the following safety tips to avoid potential dangers from fires, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and power outages that are associated with heating sources.

Do it yourself installations can lead to fires and injuries.  Have fireplaces, wood or gas heaters, wood stoves and inserts, and pellet stoves installed by a qualified and insured professional and inspected annually.  A permit may be required for plumbing, mechanical or electrical work.  Please contact the Building Department for more information.  Have the chimney inspected every year for cracks, leaks and blockages and have it cleaned and repaired as needed to prevent creosote buildup – the number one cause of chimney fires.

Before lighting a fire, check the chimney for nests or other obstructions.  Be sure the flue is open and the hearth area is free of debris or combustible items.  Use matches or commercial firelighters to start the fire.  Never use flammable liquids.

Burn only dry, seasoned wood.  Wet green wood can increase creosote and cause smoke and soot buildup.  Do not burn trash, cardboard boxes, plastic, or Christmas trees as these items increase the risk of uncontrolled fires.  Do not use artificial logs in wood stoves.

Glass doors should be open to allow enough air for complete combustion and to lessen the creosote.  Keep metal mesh screens closed to contain embers.

Never leave a fire unattended.  Make certain it is completely out before leaving the home or going to bed.

Be sure ashes are cool before disposal.  Do not empty them into a trash can.  Put ashes into a covered metal container which is at least 10 feet from any building.  To prepare for a fire emergency, do family drills to determine the safest and fastest ways to exit the home.  Arrange for a meeting place.  Call 911 when outside.

Do not close the damper until the embers have stopped burning.

Install carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms in your home.  Test them monthly and change batteries once a year.

For any questions or concerns, please contact the Orange Fire Marshal’s Office 203-891-4711, visit the office at 355 Boston Post Road or go to the website at

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