LUBBOCK, TX – Cooler temperatures are a perfect opportunity to enjoy time curled up in front of the fireplace, but city officials want to caution you before putting that first log on the fire.
According to officials, it is recommended to have your fireplace cleaned by a qualified chimney sweep because debris from trees or nature such as bird nests could have collected since it’s last use.
City officials say fireplaces primary function is to pull heated gasses out of your house safely.
Obstructions in your chimney can prevent the fire from having good flow. Flow can also be obstructed from having a dirty flue which can be caused from a build up that wood puts off called creosote a flaky, tar like material.
“We still in Lubbock, Texas do not have a documented fire death with smoke detectors in the home,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Allen Martin, with the Lubbock Fire Department. “It’s very simple, early notification will save your life.”
Having the proper accessories for your fireplace like a screen on the front of the fireplace will help keep embers from catching combustibles on fire inside the home, according to officials.
In addition, a chimney cap, which sits atop the chimney, will help prevent debris from getting inside the chimney.
Martin said he has seen a drop in fireplace house fires due to more gas powered fireplaces being used which are much more efficient than wood burning fireplaces.
“It’s more expensive to buy wood in the Lubbock market,” said CEO Chris Beason of Fireplaces Unlimited. “They have to truck it in from Austin or San Antonio area versus gas. With gas logs there is relatively no cleaning or maintenance to do and you don’t have to worry about your chimney. It’s safe to burn any gas appliance indefinitely without any kind of cleaning or maintenance.”
“It is important to remember to never leave any type of fire unattended whether its for cooking or heating,” Martin said. “What happens is you don’t recognize if something does ignite or catch on fire and you don’t have that time to mitigate it.”
He said people need as much time as possible during a house fire to ensure you and your family get out safely. Having a smoke detector will give you the forewarning needed to increase your chances of survival.
According to research, sound is what wakes people up, and different sound waves affect different age groups. High pitch does not wake up every age group so installing a low pitch alarm or a smoke detector that speaks are better at alerting all age groups.
Officials also recommend having a fire extinguisher, but having some experience and confidence using a fire extinguisher is recommended before you try to put out a fire.
“We give an acronym people need to know the principles when it comes to fighting fire,” Martin said. “The acronym is RACE – Rescue Alarm Confine Extinguish. Those are the principles in order that everyone should be thinking about.”
Martin recommends the first thing people should do is rescue themselves and others around you. Depending on the size of the fire, officials say people should not try to extinguish it.
If there is ever a time where somebody is capable and confident that they can put out a small fire, usually the size of a trash can with a fire extinguisher then it is encouraged because it always saves property damage and possible risk of life.
“What needs to be understood is that is the last priority,” Martin said. “Rescuing yourself and your family members is a top priority. Remember to always keeping exits to your back if you do fight a fire in your house so you don’t trap yourself in a room.”