Safety advice for wood burning stoves

The winter weather is kicking in and many people will be thinking of lighting stoves to keep homes cosy and warm.

There appears to have been an increase in the popularity of solid fuel heating and wood burning stoves of late, not just in West Yorkshire but also across the country.

In the coming weeks and months as the temperature falls, we would like to remind anyone who has such forms of heating to pay extra attention to use and maintenance in order to avoid potentially devastating fires in the home.

In a recent incident in Leeds around 50 logs had been stacked either side of a wood burning stove, which was left unattended.

The logs on one side of the wood burner caught fire, which then spread to wooden beams inside the chimney.

Firefighters had to pull the fireplace out to get to the beams within the chimney and put out the blaze. The house was unoccupied and fortunately neighbours raised the alarm.

Two fire engines from Killingbeck Fire Station attended.

Watch Manager John Jackson said: “Fortunately the property was unoccupied, however, had it been furnished this fire could easily have spread from the fireplace to other combustible items within the room and could have been a great deal worse.

“Nonetheless there was still quite a lot of destruction to the fireplace and the whole house was left smoke damaged.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has the following advice for users of wood burning stoves:

  • The stove or boiler should be installed by a competent person, following the maker’s instructions and the building regulations and codes of practice.
  • Wood burning stoves and boilers require placement on a fire-resistant base. Placement directly onto a hardwood floor or carpeted surface increases the risk of fire due to the extreme heat in the firebox.
  • The wood should be dry and well-seasoned. This usually takes about two years. A well-seasoned log will have drying-out splits in the ends. Wet or newly felled wood can cause tar or creosote to form in the wood burner and chimney.
  • If the creosote is not removed through yearly cleaning, there is a significant danger of the creosote igniting and causing a chimney fire. Any kind of chimney fire has the potential to result in significant loss of property or life.
  • The chimney should be cleaned at the end of each heating season and at least once during the heating season. It should also be inspected regularly.
  • Do not stack logs or place any other combustible materials immediately adjacent to the stove or boiler. The Service been called to fires caused because of logs being stored against the hot external surface of wood burners.
  • Children should be educated about the dangers of fire and should not be permitted near hot surfaces or the stove door. Use a protective fireguard that is suited to the design of the stove within your property.
  • Use extra caution and proper protection when opening the stove door, adding to the fire or touching any part of the wood burning stove to prevent injury.

 

For further information on fire safety visit www.westyorksfire.gov.uk or www.hetas.co.uk

HETAS is the official body recognised by Government to approve biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services.