We see it every year: fatal fires that could possibly be prevented. Two brother's lives were tragically taken this week from a fire that started in a chimney. Jason Johnson, Public Education Officer for the Bangor Fire Department, says there are steps home owners can take to prevent these types of fires.
"It never hurts to, you know, check and make sure you have installed the stove correctly. Assuming that folks have done that, the next best thing is to check and clean the chimney. Especially if folks haven't done that yet, I recommend that you usually do that about every month, or so, and if there is about a quarter inch of creosote in that chimney, they should sweep it out," said Johnson.
Monthly sweeps come down to preference.
"They can either hire a professional chimney sweep, or if they feel comfortable, they can buy their own equipment for not a lot of money at most hardware stores and they can sweep it out," said Johnson.
When it comes to logs sold that are designed to sweep chimneys by burning them in the hearth, Johnson says using them alone isn't enough.
"Most experts say that they're not really going to harm things, but they don't act, but they're not in place of doing the actual physical sweeping of it. Whether you do it yourself, what they tend to do is they tend to dry things out enough, or use some chemicals and what it will do is it will take the really bad form of creosote and make it into a type that's a little bit drier, or a little bit easier to sweep. In itself will not do the job. You need to have a physical sweeping of the chimney," said Johnson.
Stove placement should be also be a major consideration.
"Making sure the stove is far enough away from anything that can burn, including the walls and other items that can catch on fire. We've seen a fatality, to several fatalities with that. Also, it goes into the chimney flue and the chimney itself," said Johnson.
Proper disposable of ashes is another factor.
"I always recommend that when people dispose of the ashes, they put it into a covered metal pail outside away from anything that can catch fire," said Johnson.
What could have possibly saved the lives of the Davis brothers were working or exsisting smoke detectors.
"That's been one recurring theme we've been seeing over and over again, is folks are dying in fires, folks are getting really seriously injured in fires and the common theme, the common thread that holds it all together is so many times there's just no smoke detectors, or no working smoke detectors," said Johnson.
When it comes to fire prevention, just taking a few simple steps can mean the difference between life and death.