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Wood Stove Safety

The Hampstead Fire Department would like to offer some general information to residents about wood stove safety since there has been an increase in fires locally due to wood stove usage.

Here are some principal do's and don'ts:
Do- make sure there is enough clearance between the stove and combustable materials, including floors, walls and ceilings.
Do- place the stove on a non-combustable, fire resistant base.
Do- have a mason or other competent person inspect the chimney.
Do- burn only dry, well seasoned wood.
Do- consider opening a window a crack for ventilation.

Don't- extend the stovepipe through a wall or ceiling unless there is no possible alternative.
Don't- connect a wood stove to a fireplace chimney unless the fireplace has been sealed off.
Dont- connect a wood stove to a chimney serving another appliance burning fuels.
Don't- start a stove fire with flammable liquids, such as gasoline.
Don't- burn trash in a stove; doing so can easily ignite a chimney fire.
Don't- let a wood fire burn unattended or overnight.

Selecting a Wood Stove
Be sure your stove is made of sturdy, suitable material, such as cast iron or steel. Look for stoves listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or other recognized testing laboratories.

If you purchase a used stove, check it carefully for cracks or other defects. The legs, hinges, grate and draft louvers also should be checked carefully.

If you live in a mobile home, be sure your stove is of a type specifically approved for use in such a dwelling.

Before installing your stove, check with local authorities to be sure you comply with local fire and building codes. Think twice about where you'll put your stove. Usually a centralized location is best if the stove is to be used as a heating device.

One point to consider is that warmed air rises. If the stove is too near a stairwell, you may lose much of your heat to the floor above.

If you plan to use an existing chimney, both it's location and the length of it's flue will be determining factors. Note these guidelines:

The horizontal section of the uninsulated stovepipe should not be more than three-quarters as long as that section of the flue above the point at which the pipe and the flue connect.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards call for a 36-inch clearance between a room heater stove and any combustable wall or ceiling surface. If the length of the horizontal portion of the stove pipe won't permit that much clearance, protect the combustable wall with a panel of some protective material, such as sheet metal, spaced at least one inch from the wall.

Careful attention to the floor mounting of your stove is essential. To meet NFPA standards:

Stoves having less than 2 inches of ventilated open space beneath the fire chamber or base of the unit should never be installed on combustable floors or have any combustable materials beneath them unless permitted by their listing.

Stoves having legs or pedestals providing 2-6 inches of ventilated open space beneath the fire chamber or base may be installed on combustable floors protected by 4 inches of hollow masonry, laid to provide air circulation and covered with 24-gauge steel should cover hat unit unless permitted by the stove's rating.

If there are more than 6 inches of ventilated open space beneath the fire chamber or base, a stove may be placed on a combustable floor protected by a solid brick, concrete or stone masonry unit at least 2 inches thick. A sheet of 24 gauge steel should cover that unit unless permitted by the stove's listing.

The floor protection should extend at least 18 inches on all sides of the stove.

If you have any questions about the use of wood stoves, please contact the Hampstead Fire Rescue Department's Fire Prevention Bureau at 603-329-6006.

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Town of Hampstead  11 Main Street, Hampstead, NH 03841    PH: (603) 329-4100    Website Disclaimer & Privacy Statement
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