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Heating Safety

Heating and cooking fires in Vermont continue to be the leading causes of home structure fires. The last US Census Showed that Vermont lead the nation in the use of wood heating per capita. The leading factor contributing to home heating fires was failure to clean creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment chimneys. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

The long cold Vermont winters put added stress on heating systems. Furthermore, fluctuating fuel prices can force people to use alternative heating sources that may not be safe.  An improperly installed and maintained heating appliance is dangerous and can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or be the source of a fire.  Many of these fires can be prevented through proper maintenance and proper use of heating equipment.

Codes and Standards - Vermont Requirements
NFPA 211"Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances , is the standard that is used in vermont.  The standard applies to residential multi-family and rental dwellings as well as commercial and industrial buildings.

To view the standard, go to the National Fire protection Association Codes & Standards

Heating Fire Safety Highlights 

  • Install heating equipment in accordance with the heating equipment company’s instructions.
  • It’s best to have a professional install the equipment.
  • Maintain minimum clearances as listed in the manufactures information.            
  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Use only seasoned hardwood and good quality pellets. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
  • Dispose of wood ashes in a metal container that can be tightly closed, douse with water, place the closed container outside your home away from wood decks or buildings or other combustible materials. leave in the container for several days before disposing of them.

Additional Information and Resource Links

Co-Operative Insurance Companies - Woodburning Safety Checklist
Fire safety Information sheet on chimney fires - Chimney Safety Institute
National Fire protection Association (NFPA) - Heating
Recent CPSC Recalls
U.S. Fire Administration -Heating fire safety outreach materials
Vermont Gas -Safety Tips - Keep exterior sidewall vents clear