The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 17, 2004


Chimney and woodstove fire safety

According to the State Fire Marshal there were 665 fire incidents involving solid fuel appliances, fireplaces, and chimneys in Massachusetts during 2003. These fires were responsible for 20 injuries, 1 death and resulted in $3.2 million in property losses. These incidents make up 45% of all fires linked to heating systems. In Carlisle there are usually 12 of these incidents each year. Some involve property loss with an insurance claim. Most all are very upsetting to the homeowner and a disruption to home life at the most inconvenient time.

A few measures residents can take to help avoid a problem and prevent a fire include:


Be sure the stove you are purchasing to burn wood or coal is approved by Underwriter's Laboratory or another recognized testing laboratory.


A building permit must be obtained from the Town of Carlisle prior to the installation of fire places, wood or coal burning stoves and must be inspected by the Carlisle building inspector prior to their initial use as required by the Massachusetts State Building Code. Homeowner insurance companies often require a copy of a building permit for a solid fuel appliance.

Allow at least 36 inches of clearance around the appliance to prevent combustibles from coming in contact with a heat source.

Solid fuel heating appliances cannot share a common flu with chimney flues utilized by other solid fuel, fossil fuel, or gas fired appliances.


Have the chimney and flue inspected by a qualified mason prior to use. Cracks in the flue or motor joints can allow flames and heated gases to extend into the structure.

Proper use

Most chimney fires occur due to a build up of creosote, by-product of burning wood. Have your chimney flue cleaned before each heating season. Burn only dry, well-seasoned, hardwood to reduce creosote accumulation.

Do not use flammable liquids.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito