1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Causes of woodstove/fireplace related house fires

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Adios Pantalones, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,443
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Anyone have real data on the most common causes?

    Improper ash disposal, leaving stuff near the stove, improper install (clearances and bad pass throughs), chimney fires...

    Which causes the most issues?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. FGZ

    FGZ Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    78
    Loc:
    N.Shore MA
    I'm interested to know more about this as well - subscribed.
  3. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    Here is a start....statics are from 2003 but I will keep searching for more:

    Home fire statistics

    In 2003, there were 388,500 reported home fires in the United States, resulting in 3,145 deaths, 13,650 injuries and $5.9 billion in direct property damage.
    Nationwide, there was a civilian home fire death every 3 hours.
    Almost half of all home fire deaths in 1999 resulted from fires that were reported between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Only one-quarter of the home fires occur during these hours.
    In 1999, January was the peak month for home fire deaths. December ranked second, and March was third.
    Smoking was the leading cause of home fire deaths overall, but in the months of December, January and February, smoking and heating equipment caused similar shares of fire deaths. Cooking was the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries year-round.
    Although children five and under make up about 7% of the country's population, they accounted for 14% of the home fire deaths, assigning them a risk twice the national average. Based on 1995-1999 annual averages, adults 65 and older also face a risk twice the average, while people 85 and older have a risk that is four-and-a-half times more than average.
    Roughly 30% of the home fire deaths in 1999 were caused by fires in which a smoke alarm was present and operated.
    Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2003, 15 home fires killed five or more people. These 15 fires resulted in 86 deaths.**
  4. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    2,511
    Loc:
    N.W. Ohio
    Heres a little info I came across.

    The leading factor contributing to home heating fires 25% was the failure to clean creosoe from equipment, primarily chimneys.

    52% of fire related deaths were caued by placing flamable things to close to heating equipment.

    49% of home heating fires occure in jan. and feb.

    SOURCE - NFPA's home fires involving heating equipment 2010
  5. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
  6. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,443
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Thanks all. Woodsmaster- I am somewhat surprised that creosote is the major cause. I would have guessed it was something to do with space heaters if considering all heating issues. I wonder if a chimney fire itself is counted as a house fire (I suspect that 1/2 or more of chimney fires burn themselves out harmlessly).
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,460
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    I suspect if you did some more digging you would see that the NFPA figures space heaters -- gas, electric, etc. -- cause more fires than woodstoves . . . for some reason the NFPA also doesn't break down fires like many of us would -- fireplaces are not in the same category of woodstoves.
  8. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,443
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Remkel's link above says
    "Confined heating fires, those fires confined to chimneys, fuels, fuel boxes, or boilers, account for 87 percent of residential building heating fires."

    Check out that .pdf- it's an eye opener
  9. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,389
    Loc:
    Broadstone England
    Just shows the importance of seasoning wood properly :)
  10. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    Was an eye opener for me...funny, I am in the Health and Safety profession, but never took the time to really investigate home fires....definitely eye opening. I found the chimney fire statistic particularly interesting...a lot of people not paying attention to their chimneys I suppose.
  11. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Messages:
    732
    Loc:
    media, pa
    of those chimney fired, I would be willing to suspect they were pretty serious problems. Most of us sweep frequently, or at least yearly (like I do, based on 3 years of burning expirance, I know my creosote buildup levels). Think about how many people who own a stove never get the chimney cleaned. People are really dumb.
  12. albertj03

    albertj03 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Messages:
    539
    Loc:
    Southern Maine
    Also consider the way that some people run their stoves, like the video of the guy who doesn't like his Englander 30 because he can't get the stove or the pipe to turn red. He also had wood drying on top of the stove and all arond it while the stove was running. Think of all the people out there with the same mentality running stoves in their houses.
  13. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    As Ron White says, "You can't fix stupid".

    Again, I go to the education part. People buy wood stoves and think that they can just hook em up and run em. In the current economic environment, people are looking for solutions, but what most do not realize is

    1- The effort involved with burning wood
    2- The seasoning of wood, and also that when they buy "seasoned" wood the seller may be embelishing on how long the wood has seasoned. Also many do not realize that different species may vary on the amount of time they need to season before burning.
    3- Chimney maintenance- many new users know that the chimney should be swept and inspected annually, but do not realize that interim sweepings may need to occur in between those annual inspections and that frequency is affected by so many things (wood, chimney design, stove operation)
    4- Being able to identify the type of creosote that is collecting in their chimney and signs of imminent chimney fires
    5- How to run their new stoves. I think manufacturers need to do a better job of providing better operating instructions. Often see a whole lot of information about installation, very little about operation and more importantly maintenance (most of my maintenance experience has come from trial and error, but I think I have most of it down now. God forbid that I buy a new stove and have to go through this process again!)

    This site has provided a wealth of knowledge and experience. I am always happy to see new burners show up on the site asking questions.

    Sorry for the long post, but just some of my thoughts on the issue.
  14. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,389
    Loc:
    Broadstone England
    The problem is there are many types of people who burn wood. There are some like me, who have burned wood on an open fire for years, and suddenly have the learning curve of controlling the air to get maximum heat for minumum wood consumption, and want to learn everything possible as burning wood in a stove is a new obsession. Then there are those who have burned at weekends just with a few logs, who due to prices of oil and gas, now burn more wood but really do not have the time to learn everything that is associated with burning wood. Then there are those who have bought a woodburner because it is fashionable, they are used to pressing a button or tapping a few numbers into a computer timer, and expect to just put a match to the stove and walk away. Then think of all the others out there with varying degrees of experience, knowledge, competance, naivety, and that list didn't even include the downright stupid, and you have whole collection of people who might put themselves at risk.

    It's no wonder the authorities spend so much time writing regulations to protect people from house fires :)

Share This Page