A chimney fire is a frightening occurrence and can be potentially dangerous to your property and your family. Knowing what steps to take in the event of a chimney fire is important but surprisingly, few of us are ever prepared for it or know what to do if the worst happens. Anyone using an open-source of heat in their home should have a plan.
As soon as you are aware that the chimney is on fire, evacuate all family members and pets from the building, and call the fire department. Even if you do end up extinguishing the fire by yourself, it is always a good idea to have firefighters on their way in the event that things go wrong.
Before attempting to put out a chimney fire, evaluate the situation to ensure it is safe for you to tackle it yourself. Make sure you put on heat-proof gloves as well.
Close any primary or secondary openings into the fireplace or chimney. This helps to deprive the fire of the oxygen it needs to keep burning. This may eliminate smaller fires altogether, or just lessen the flames in something larger. You will also lessen the chances of any embers taking light after you've put the fire out.
Put Out the Fire in the Grate
Tip a generous amount of sand or baking soda onto the fire. This also helps to starve the flames of oxygen. Keeping a bucket of sand by your fireplace at all times is generally a good, practical idea that might just save your home!
Try a Fire Suppressant
A few products are available on the market to help get rid of dangerous fires. Chimfex is similar to a road flare. Once lit, it is tossed into the fire where it consumes all the available oxygen in the flow path. These are fairly inexpensive and have a decent shelf-life.
FireEx is another such product that tends to be a bit more expensive, but airtight plastic packaging ensures that it has an indefinite shelf-life. It is a good idea to have a few of these products handy at all times if you use your fireplace frequently.
Use a Fire Extinguisher
To be on the safe side, you can use a fire extinguisher on the flames as well. This should be left as the last resort as extinguishers can create a big mess. Direct the nozzle towards the grate and spray in short bursts to make sure that any glowing embers or flames that didn't get extinguished by the sand are completely out. Don't stand too close when using the fire extinguisher as the pressure from the nozzle can throw glowing embers into the air.
Hose the Chimney Stack
When you are satisfied that the fire in the grate is no longer alight, go outside and hose-down the chimney. Do this from a standing position. If you have a power attachment on your hose, use it as you will find it much easier to direct the water towards where you need it. Use only a fine mist; the heat from the fire will turn it into steam that will help dampen what's left of the fire. Only perform this maneuver if you're confident that you know the right amount of water to use, as too much can end up damaging the flue liner.
Always take the proper precautions when using your fireplace to ensure that a chimney fire never starts. However, in the event that the unexpected does happen, taking quick decisive action can save your home. Just make sure to look out for your own safety first before tackling this problem.