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Is 140,000 Wodstove fires to many?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Nov 22, 2005.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 140,000 woodburning-related fires, 280 deaths and 2,500 injuries occur each year. Some of the major causes of woodburning related fires are:

    *
    Inadequate clearances from the unit to combustibles,
    such as walls, ceilings, floors, and furniture.
    *
    Excessive creosote buildup in the chimney.
    Creosote is a black substance that resembles
    a tarlike liquid or small black flakes.
    Creosote burns easily.
    *
    An improperly installed or poorly maintained chimney.
    *
    Improper installation and maintenance of the appliance.

    Heating with solid fuel requires that you become aware of these and other hazards and take whatever action is needed to correct them.

    The consumer Product Safety commission estimates that about 45,000 chimney fires occur each year. These fires are often a result of poor maintenance and inadequate cleaning of the chimney.

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  2. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    I was in a small hardware store here in town the other day looking for a stove thermometer for a buddy when a young guy came in and asked if they had firebrick. The guy working there didn't even know what it was. I directed him to the only place in the area I know of that has it. He was using a woodstove that hadn't been run in some time. it was already there when they moved in. (like many people he is trying to tame the heating bills this winter). I mentioned to him to make sure he gets the chimney cleaned. He said he was doing the job himself. I said if he was doing it himself, to make sure he gets the debris off the smokeshelf. (nothing like a big pile of close reosote on the smokeshelf to really get that chimney fire going.)
    I wished him luck and wondered how many more people like that are going to be out there. How many aren't even going to clean the old chimney before fiireing up that woodstove they've been meaning to get rid of. We've already had some fires on the news around here. I'm sure there will be more.

    David
  3. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Any idea the number of people classified as woodburners? 280 deaths out of 280 million people isn't bad, but obviously not everyone does it (hence the whole alternative fuel thing.) or how many fatalities as a result of conventional heat sources (cracked heat exchangers, boiler explosions, etc).

    As a point of reference, we had slightly more than 42,000 traffic fatalities last year.

    Steve
  4. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    In the same area of life safety, consider this. Child safety seats reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 71%, yet 96% of all child safety seats are installed incorrectly or misused. Locally, you can go to the fire department to have them checked for free and the police department has days where parents can come in and have them checked, also for free. Many people think, "well when I was a kid I didn't even where a seat belt, so my kids are lucky to even have a car seat." In the same way, people think, "people have been heating with fire for eons, how unsafe can it be." I think every person should be required to watch a video of a chimney fire before they begin using their fireplace. When they hear the freight-train-a-coming, they may decide inspections and cleanings are a pretty good idea.
  5. chimneychick

    chimneychick New Member

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    But you have to remember when WE were kids. The laws were more lenient. Stricter laws regarding Child Safety, Heating Safety and other modes may appear to be a royal pain in the nether regions but in the big picture are for the greater good.
    In the 'old days' we had more time to make things right and care for our heating appliances and chimney systems [as well as everything else in our lives]. Now everyone is in such a rush, safety seems to be the last thing on their minds [it'll never happen to me!!] and I am tired of hearing "But grandpa had a stove and he never had problems" Remember that most likely gramma was home most of the day tending the hearth and home and keeping an eye on things. [how soon they forget]
    Anyways, the Government makes these laws to protect us from the unscrupulous installers and the unknowledgable burners. We just have to grin and bear it and hope that the chimney fire and fatality stats go way way down with more consumer awareness.
    Just my two cents..
  6. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Seems to me it's really more a matter of expectations. It wasn't all that long ago (OK, 60 yrs for most things, maybe 30 for fuel) that we had real rationing. Can you imagine the pandemonium if people were told they could only get 10 gallons of gas a week? or 10 pounds of flour? I bet most people don't know what to do with 10 lbs of flour. If you can't go down the street and get a taco, or pull in anywhere and buy gas without waiting in line, flip on the TV and get 100 channels crystal clear, or drive your car for 6 yrs and 100K miles without an oil change, it's a hardship. Anyof these things would have bordered on miraculous within the lives of many living people.

    Steve
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Around here, the fire horn in the middle of town goes off on a regular basis on the first few cold nights of the year. I've always assumed that it's usually people torching off chimneys that haven't been used (nor cleaned) since last winter.

    BTW, I know creosote is flammable, 'cause I've burned my share over the years. However, I've taken big chunks of the stuff after cleaning various chimneys and found it impossible to ignite with a lighter or match. I guess it takes a cast-iron blowtorch to set it off.
  8. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Yeah, nice avatar. I'm trying to understand the source of her consternation. Is the wall hot? It that smoke? Or is water saturating the wall and hearth? Inquiring minds want to know. :)
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Can't help but think this is a bogus statistic!

    How the heck do they know how many chimney fires occur?

    The vast majority of chimney fires do no harm to the pipe or the building. Only the very worst stoves, chimneys and buildups cause the ones that the fire dept might see!

    In all seriousness, this is like counting the number of "close call" car accidents.

    Even in many situations where the fire dept is called for a chimney fire, they simply watch and then tell the homeowner to have it checked. In the "old" days, they'd run a hose down the chimney and ruin it and part of the house along with it.

    So, how do you accurately measure the number of chimney fires? I say it is nearly impossible even defining a chimney fire (I could have one a week in my indoor stovepipe)....

    To be more accurate, the number of chimney fires is probably vastly greater than they say, but the number of chimney fires that damage property over a certain dollar figure is another story.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    "one-eighth of residential fires are related to the use of supplemental room heaters, such as wood- and coal-burning stoves, kerosene heaters, gas space heaters, and electrical heaters."

    -----United States Fire Admin - part of FEMA-----

    OK, so there are lies, statistics and damn lies.....

    only 1/8 of house fires caused by ALL the electric, gas, kerosene AND wood coal stoves.....AND, we know that the electrics and Kerosenes are always torching down houses......

    So, we can probably say that only 1/20 or less of residential house fires are from wood burners.....

    Wow, they must be safe since 19 out of 20 fires are from other things!

    BUT, only a few percent of Americans burn wood....so, now we have to adjust for that!

    Stats are too difficult a science for me! In the end it comes down to one house - YOURS. Newer stoves are so much cleaner and safer...what worries me is not experienced woodburners using older stoves, but newbie ones. These are the folks who don't yet know what to worry about!

    As I think Elk knows (and I know also) - we WILL see an increase in property and personal destruction this year due to improper installations and use. Those who have doubts about their installations are better off working a few extra hours and paying the gas or oil bill.
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, more stats that don't seem to add up - these from the government also...

    1. in 2003, fire departments responded to 402,000 home fires in the United States
    (so are you saying that more than 1 in 3 house fires (140,000) are from wood burning?)

    2.Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths (Ahrens 2001).
    Cooking is the primary cause of residential fires (Ahrens 2001).
    Approximately half of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms
    Alcohol use contributes to an estimated 40% of residential fire deaths

    3. Groups with increased risk:
    # African Americans and Native Americans (CDC 1998);
    # The poorest Americans (Istre 2001);
    # Persons living in rural areas (Ahrens 2001a);

    So, in conclusion, I would say that if you don't smoke, don't drink a lot, take care with your cooking and are living in a city (and not really poor), then your odds have improved MANY times over.

    Dang statistics - always confusing me..... :gulp:
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I think she is blessing and creating the source of the warmth!
  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Oh no. I am an old, poor, smoking, home cooking, alcohol drinking wood burner that lives in a rural area. And the high cheek bones strongly suggest a red complected buck somewhere back in the old ancestery. I am not sure but I think those statistics would say that my house burned down a year ago last Thursday.
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