State Fire Marshal Offers Do’s and Don’ts of Wood Stove Usage
NASHVILLE – As 2018’s brutally cold weather continues, wood stoves might seem to be a cheaper alternative to traditional heating sources for some Tennesseans. However, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) warns that wood stoves can pose a significant fire and carbon monoxide risk if they’re not properly installed and maintained.
Alternative heating sources such as wood stoves, chimneys, and space heaters are common in Tennessee and are just as hazardous as traditional heating sources (electric, gas). Since 2010, wood stoves have been responsible for 23 percent of fatal heating fires statewide according to SFMO data.
"Heating is one of the primary known causes of fires during the cold months here in Tennessee," said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. "As the winter weather sets in, we urge Tennesseans to use heating sources such as wood stoves with extreme care. Taking proper precautions and following the manufacturer’s instructions can help keep you both safe and warm."
The SFMO offers the following guidelines to help Tennesseans avoid wood stove fires:
DO—have your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly. Have a qualified professional install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys following the manufacturer’s instructions.
DO—make sure your stove is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
DO—give all heaters space. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to give the stove proper clearance from anything that can burn, including floors, walls and ceilings.
DO—place the stove on a noncombustible, fire-resistant base.
DO—burn only dry, seasoned hardwood.
DO—remove ashes regularly. Let them cool before disposing of them in a covered metal container that is kept at least 10 feet away from buildings or vehicles.
DO—check for damage or cracks in the stove’s exterior masonry, glass, or metal.
DO—keep a close eye on children whenever a wood stove is being used. Remind them to stay at least three feet away from the stove.
DO—make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home.
DON’T—extend the stove pipe through a wall or ceiling unless there is no possible alternative.
DON’T—connect a wood stove to a fireplace chimney unless the fireplace has been sealed off.
DON’T—connect a wood stove to a chimney serving another appliance burning other fuels.
DON’T—make a larger fire than the stove can handle. This can result in flames entering the flue pipe or chimney, and can cause damage to the stove or chimney, which could result in a fire.
DON’T—use flammable fluids, such as gasoline, to start a fire in a wood stove.
DON’T—burn anything other than wood in your wood stove. Other combustibles, such as trash or cardboard, could damage your stove or give off toxic fumes.
DON’T—leave a wood fire unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
For more home fire safety information or to download a free copy of the 2018 Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office calendar, visit tn.gov/fire.