In the spirit of the season, cooler weather brings National Chimney Safety Week – the week before National Fire Prevention Week. The observance aims to reach and teach people about chimney and venting safety.

The US. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are more than 22,000 known residential damage-causing chimney fires every year.

It’s not just wood-burning chimneys that can be hazardous. Gas fireplaces, gas or oil heating appliances and water heaters, or other fuel-burning appliances can create unsafe chimneys, too. So, inspect chimneys ever year. External factors other than the fire source can cause dangerous situations, including weather, animals residing in the flue, aging structure, foreign obstructions.

Industry sources say the majority of chimney fires go undetected, especially those chimney fires that are not easily detected. Slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or have fuel to be dramatic or visible. They often go undetected until a later chimney inspection.

One of the most apparent dangerous elements is creosote build-up in a chimney. This can happen when the air supply is restricted, or unseasoned wood is used, or chimney temperatures are so cold that creosote condenses on the walls of the flue.

Chimney Fires Facts and Statistics:
  • A majority of chimney fires go undetected.
  • Chimney fires can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The leading cause of chimney fires is the buildup of creosote inside the chimney.
  • Once a fire ignites within a chimney, it likely will happen again if no remedial attention is given.
  • Signs of a chimney fire include cracks in flue tiles or masonry, discolored chimney cap, warped metal of the damper, creosote flakes, etc.

HOW TO OBSERVE #ChimneySafetyWeek

Have a professional chimney sweep inspect your chimney

Prevent a chimney fire by following these steps:

  • Use only dry, seasoned wood in your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Don’t burn trash or large pieces of cardboard in your fireplace.
  • Inspect your chimney for holes or cracks where sparks or embers can escape.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Install a working smoke detector on every level of your home.
  • Use a fireguard in front of your fireplace to protect against hot embers popping into the room.
  • Don’t go to bed before properly extinguishing all hot embers.
  • Don’t scoop out hot ashes from your fireplace.
  • Keep ashes in a metal container at least 10 feet from the home.
  • Make sure your fireplace or stove gets sufficient air to allow proper burning.
  • Hire a local certified chimney sweeper to inspect and clean your chimney before you start your fireplace or wood stove

Visit the Chimney Safety Institute website for more ideas and resources.

On social media, use #NationalChimneySafetyWeek to join the conversation.


The Chimney Safety Institute of America created National Chimney Safety week in 1978. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) works to prevent chimney fires, dryer fires, and other home heating disasters by advancing public awareness and providing expert-led education and training to industry professionals.


Source: National Day Calendar