February is the coldest month of the year, and IAFF members may find they are battling more chimney fires as home owners try to stay warm in the freezing temperatures.

Here are some tips to share with your communities on how to keep safe when using fireplaces this winter.
Many times, homeowners aren’t aware that a fire has started in the chimney until it’s too late.

Chimney fires are a hazardous and destructive problem to have, but the good news is that they are also almost always preventable. Chimney fires can burn slowly if they aren’t being led by air or fuel. The heat from chimney fires can be so intense that it can pick the mortar out from between bricks or stones.

If residents in your community are using their fireplaces this season, remind them of the following:
•             Homeowners who receive 90 percent of their heat from wood should consider having their chimney cleaned twice a year or more – especially when burning more fuel.
•             Homeowners should avoid burning unseasoned wood – which creates more creosote.
•             Chimney fires don’t always occur during the winter months. They can also happen in instances of wild temperature swings. So always be on the lookout.

Chimney fires can be very dramatic with intense flames coming from the home.  A homeowner may hear what sounds like a train or airplane flying close by. If it happens, call  the fire department and close the damper. Homeowners need to take as much precaution as possible to make sure they are warm and safe this winter when using their fireplaces.