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HVFC: The Importance of Annual Chimney Inspections and Cleaning

By Olivia Drake, HVFC Information Officer

(October 19, 2022) — As the mid-fall season temperatures begin to drop, many residents of Haddam begin cozying up to a wood-burning fireplace or light a wood stove to help take the chill out of the air. But with any indoor burning comes the risk of having a chimney fire.

Chimney fires may occur when creosote—a tar-like byproduct of burning fossil fuels—builds up in the chimney’s liner—or flue—and creates a blockage for smoke to vent. Chimney flues, which are commonly made of stainless steel, terracotta clay or concrete tiles, may crack under this extreme heat, allowing fire to spread into a home’s wooden frame and ultimately result in a structure fire.

“It’s crucial that homeowners have their chimneys inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep every year,” said Haddam Volunteer Fire Company Captain Jeff Doskos. “For those who burn wood continuously throughout winter, they may want to get their chimney flue cleaned twice.”

During Haddam Fire’s weekly drill on October 17th, firefighters reviewed the process for responding to chimney fire calls and participated in a hands-on training activity at Haddam Community Center and Haddam Veterans Museum. There, firefighters practiced setting up ladders to gain roof access; using chimney chains and other tools to remove burning creosote; and “staging” the interior of a house for removing debris from the firebox or wood stove.

“Since many chimney fires occur in the winter, we do our best to minimize the foot traffic going in and out of the house so we’re not dragging soot and snow across the homeowner’s white carpet,” Doskos said.

National Chimney Safety Week was held October 2-8. Last year, HVFC responded to three chimney fires.

Photos by Olivia Drake

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