Fireplace Safety

Residential indoor wood burning is prohibited from May 15 to September 15 unless the wood-burning appliance is the sole source of heat. Learn more on the Metro Vancouver website.

On cold winter nights, there’s nothing better than curling up in front of a wood-burning fireplace or stove. But if your fireplace or stove isn’t properly installed or regularly maintained, it can quickly turn dangerous, destructive and deadly.

Tips to Keep Things Safe

  • Have your fireplace or stove cleaned and inspected once a year by a professional.
    • A WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) inspection is highly recommended. A WETT inspection report details the areas in which the fire-burning installation meets or does not meet the manufacturer’s instructions and the appropriate building codes. If fireplaces are improperly used and maintained, they can be dangerous and could prevent a new buyer from getting home insurance. For more information on WETT inspections refer to
  • Burn only seasoned wood (chopped, stacked and dried for six months). Don’t burn garbage, wet wood or wood waste.
  • Build your fire with a small amount of dry, seasoned wood to keep the flames under control. Don’t overload your fireplace or stove by burning too much wood at once as this can cause tar and creosote to build up in your chimney or stove pipes, which is a fire hazard.
  • Before lighting, open the damper and keep it open until the fire is out and the ashes are cool enough to touch. Ensure the room is adequate ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning (symptoms can include headaches and nausea).
  • Always use a screen in front of the fireplace, and never leave children or pets unattended.
  • During the holiday season, remember to take decorations such as stockings off the fireplace before you light the fire. If you have a real Christmas tree, water it regularly and keep it a safe distance away from your fireplace or stove (at least four feet).
  • Be responsible and use common sense.
    • Avoid being intoxicated or impaired when tending the fire.
    • Never leave your house or go to bed when a fire is still burning.
    • Clean the ashes out after every use. Ensure they are completely cool and scoop them into a metal bucket; never place the ashes in a plastic or cardboard container. It can take up to three days for embers and ashes to completely cool.
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