how to: build a safe fire

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Whether it's Christmas time or just a cold winter's day, if you have a wood burning fireplace, you should build a fire!

Here are a few basic tips on how to build a perfect fire

Step 1: Make sure the damper is open. (The damper is inside and up beyond the fireplace opening at the beginning, or throat of the chimney.)

Step 2: Place your kindling or your fire starter under the andirons toward the back of the firebox. Andirons or metal grates are important because they elevate the firewood, providing air circulation underneath.

Step 3: Start off with two or three pieces of firewood and place them on the back of the andirons (or metal grate). Next, crumple a piece of newspaper and place it on top of the logs.

Step 4: Light the newspaper first, and then the kindling. The burning newspaper will help create a draft to draw smoke up the chimney. With the blaze set, replace the fire screen, and sit back and enjoy the glow.

Here are a few basic tips on how to prevent hazards when building a fire
  1. Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
  2. Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary.
  3. Never burn charcoal indoors, for it can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  4. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. This can cause the ashes to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  5. Do not use excessive amounts of paper to build raging fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
  6. Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to preventing embers or sparks from jumping out.