Maryland Blogger: Fireplace Safety

Fireplace Safety

Fireplace Safety
This notice was provided by the Montgomery County, Maryland Fire and Rescue Service:
When is the last time you had your chimney inspected? Fireplaces can add extra heat in the winter, but if they're not properly maintained, they can also become a hazard.
The purpose of a chimney is to carry hazardous gases and smoke out of your home. If chimneys are not cleaned regularly, residue called creosote can build up inside your chimney and catch fire. When you clean your chimney and have it inspected periodically, you help ensure there is a clear pathway for gasses and heat to escape.
If you're planning on curling up in front of your fireplace this winter, keep the following tips in mind to help prevent chimney fires some quick tips:
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a chimney professional. A chimney professional will make sure your chimney is structurally sound and will remove creosote buildup and any other debris (such as animal nests).
  • Only burn dried-out wood - cardboard, trash, or other objects can burn very quickly and the flames can get out of control. Never dispose of a Christmas tree in your fireplace. Like ever. 
  • Never (ever) use flammable liquids! You're not lighting the grill. No charcoal, no lighter fluid, no kerosene, no gasoline. 
  • Keep your fireplace doors opened or cracked when burning a fire, as restricted air supply can cause creosote buildup.
  • Stay on the lookout for signs of chimney fires. Indications of chimney fires include dense smoke and a loud rumbling noise (often compared to a freight train). If you think you have a chimney fire, get everyone safely out of your home and call 911. Never attempt to fight the fire yourself. 
  • It is important to note that some chimney fires are slow-burning and may not make loud noises or have lots of smoke. These can cause damage to your home as well and weaken the structure of your chimney.
  • Important: COOL your ashes and then CAN your ashes. Embers from fires can retain heat and reignite for days after the original fire
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are WORKING. We're not kidding when we say that carbon monoxide is the "silent killer"and you MUST keep those carbon monoxide detectors in good shape.  
  • Working smoke alarms? We know - you're too smart not to have them in your home and that you test them as often as you check your phone.
  • Chimney fires often lead to house fires. It's important to follow safe fire-burning practices and keep regular maintenance on your chimney.

Critter ornament from the Brandywine River Museum

Canon Powershot G11 Camera

Photograph by Roy Kelley

Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

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Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Roy Kelley and Associates


Roy Kelley, Associate Broker

Realty Group Referrals (Retired from RE/MAX Realty Group)

6 Montgomery Village Ave., Suite 200

Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Main Office:  301-258-7757 (You will not reach me at this number)

Send an email message if you need my phone numbers. I will be happy to recommend a real estate professional if you are moving to the area.

Comment balloon 19 commentsRoy Kelley • January 06 2018 06:47PM


Good morning, Roy... a great post reminding people about how not to burn their houses down... at time when many are probably using their fireplaces like mad.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage | Charlotte, NC) 10 months ago

Good morning, Roy Kelley I wouldn't buy a home unless it had a fireplace or a setup for a woodburning stove.... but I have both of mine cleaned faithfully every year.... 

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 10 months ago

Thanks for the timely reminder Roy.  Everyone who uses a fireplace should use them safely.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) 10 months ago

Thank you very much for your comments. It is always good to hear from you.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 10 months ago

This is very good information for those in your area, fires can destroy things quickly.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) 10 months ago

Thanks for the reminder.  Excellent tips.

Happy New Year!

Posted by Dinah Stallworth-Lewis, NATCHITOCHES, LA HOMES FOR SALE (Priority Real Estate LLC - 800.978.4847) 10 months ago

Good morning Roy. Always best to practice a bit of safety. Thanks for the reminder. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) 10 months ago

Roy, having a wood burning fireplace absolutely needs to be cleaned, or some day you could have an unexpected fire.   Great post.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) 10 months ago

Important message Roy. Safety first if your home has a fireplace!

Posted by Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400, Long Island Condo & Home Sale Specialists (The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803) 10 months ago


What a great message on the subject of fireplaces this time of the year.  They need to be services just like our cars do.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) 10 months ago

Hello Roy Kelley,  I just had mine inspected in October and in good shape for the winter.


Posted by Will Hamm, "Where There's a Will, There's a Way!" (Hamm Homes) 10 months ago

Timely and lifesaving advice. We get ours done every year - cleaned and inspected. You can't be too careful when it comes to safety - where there's fire, there's the potential for disaster.D 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 10 months ago

Hello Roy, We have had several serious home fires in the last couple of weeks. I hope many will read your post and take some preventative action.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) 10 months ago

This is a timely post as many people will be using their fireplaces this week

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) 10 months ago

Maryland's  New Smoke Alarm Law


Maryland's new Smoke Alarm Law requires the replacement of battery-only smoke alarms with new alarms powered by sealed-in 10 year long-life batteries by January 1, 2018. Click on the link for all of the information you will need.

Smoke alarms have expiration dates. Both hard-wired and battery-operated smoke alarms need to be replaced with new ones every 10 years from the date of manufacture (printed on the back of all smoke alarms). If your smoke alarms have not been replaced since 2007, now is the time for replacements.

If you have questions or need a hand in Montgomery County, Maryland, call 311 to reach the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 10 months ago

Hi Roy Kelley - Perfect blog for this time of year. 

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 10 months ago
La Milla de Mayo Early Registrationannounce
Register early for the 3rd Annual La Milla de Mayo (The May Mile), a lively one-mile run/walk through Olde Towne, Gaithersburg on Saturday, May 5, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 10 months ago


This is very timely advise!   But I wanted to comment more on what you said in one of your comments.  I learned something new, I was not aware they made 10 year batteries smoke detectors!  That's great for so many people neglect to change their battery yearly.

Posted by Bill Dean, William Dean - Broker, Salesperson (Haggerty Team St. Louis, Mo.) 9 months ago

Your feedback is always welcome and is very much appreciated.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 9 months ago