People who lived earlier this century remember the common occurrence
of chimney fires.
Many children died from burns - from fireplaces as well as ranges and
the hot water that had to be carried from room to room; if you are going
to use a fireplace for a coal or wood fire, take these precautions:
- make sure the chimney is not capped or blocked in some way; light
a taper or use a smoke pellet to check that smoke is drawn up the chimney;
open a window first to increase the draught
- have the chimney swept, preferably before, once during and again at
the end of the winter; the unburnt deposits of tar and carbon are flammable
and also reduce the draught. As a minimum, have it swept at the end
of the winter to remove the new soot.
- if you are in any doubt about the maintenance of the chimney, have
it checked internally and above the roof; if a chimney has been damp
for a long period, the acids in old soot can eat into the mortar
in the flue and, in the worst
cases, allow fumes into other rooms and an adjacent house. A stained
or, when a fire is established, a hot chimney breast is an indication
that the mortar is in poor condition.
- you must have a fireproof hearth; this may be tiled or stone
- you should use a fender, to catch any embers that pop out of the fire
- if you are burning wood, a fine mesh guard is recommended to catch
- if you have children, invest in a wrap-around guard that fixes to
the wall either side