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Thread: Chimney fire what to do and not to do?

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    Member Roger's Avatar
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    Default Chimney fire what to do and not to do?

    What should you do and do not do if you have a chimney fire ? I hope it never happens to anyone but this info might save someones home should it ever happen to them. What are the signs of a chimney fire I have a gauge on the stack so if it gets to 900 I start to worry

    Just Kidding on that last part
    PEOPLE SAY I HAVE A.D.D I DON'T UNDERSTA.....OH LOOK A MOOSE !!!

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Default Good Q!

    We keep a large fire extinguisher handy. Hopefully we'll never get to use it!
    My thinking would be to open the door and unload the extinguisher and shut the door again. I assume this would smother the fire within along with a chimney fire if it ever happened.
    Anyone have any real life experience with this situation and how they handled it?
    BK

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    Default chimney fires

    I was a chimney sweep for many years and part of a V- fire dept. fIRST DO NOT PUT WATER ON THE FIRE IF YOU HAVE A GLASS DOOR.

    It sounds like a train or tornado in the stove.
    The problem with fire extinguishers are that the main fire is in the chimney not in the fire box. You may get it snuffed out but i would not hold my breath on it.
    The best product on the market is called chimfex, it looks like a road flare. What you do is, in the event of a chimney fire you strike it like a road flare and toss it in the fire box and close the door. Next cut off all combustion air to the stove.
    The chimney pipe is or should be HT rated, you should have it checked out after it is out and before you put a fire back in the stove. I have seen pipe exspan apart with excessive heat from a chimney fire. b
    The next problem is why you had a chimney fire in the first place.
    Answer; poor burning habits
    Hope this helps.
    Regards T

    Sweepint
    Wasilla, (when not overseas)
    '' Livn' The Dream ''
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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Default chimfex Q

    Sweepint,
    Does the Chimfex consume all the oxygen in the box and essentialy starve the chimney of air?
    Is this something you might find locally, as in the valley?

    Thanks for your help!
    BK

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    As a past VFD member for 5 years (I'm Structural II certified), I've seen a number of chimney fires. What we did as a department is to use the dry chemical extinquisher refill material in ziplock baggies. We'd get the dry chemical from the fire safety supply store in a 55 gallon drum (you can get 1 gallon cans too) and fill sandwich baggies with the material. There were usually 30 to 40 baggies on every truck in the department.

    When coming onto scene, we'd get onto the roof, throw the cap off and drop a minimum of two baggies down the chimney. Once the fire was out, we'd run a chimney brush through a few times to get the rest of the creosote out, until the insurance companies said we were not permitted to brush.

    I personally keep a couple of these baggies at every exit, and on a shelf near the window that allows immediate roof access, along with a pair of welders gloves that'll handle the heat.

    The sticks mentioned above are great for the homeowner to keep on hand as well, but a well maintained chimney shouldn't have any problems. Even if that means cleaning it out weekly. You should be able to find these sticks in good hardware stores and any fire safety shop. I've seen them here in Fairbanks at a few different stores.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Ironically, ChimFex's factory burned down and it was not rebuilt. It is no longer available and my store has not been able to find a substitute.

    The baggie of dry chem works. I've heard that a gallon ziploc of water will work, but have never tried it.

    90% of the chimney fires our department responds to are already burned out by the time we get there. If the stove pipe is good high temp pipe like Metalbestos and installed properly there is usually no damage. Shutting the draft totally off on a Blaze King will generally smother it out. When my family ran a wood stove it was our habit to crank it all the way up once a week and burn out the buildup, followed by a liberal dose of creosote remover powder.

    We have extinguished "chimney fires" that really weren't chimney fires. They were improperly installed systems that allow sparks to flow down into the roof structure and ignite or systems that didn't have enough clearance using single wall pipe.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    I've had a few chimney fires over the years. As I burn wood 24/7 all winter I also burn up the stove a couple of times a week to help clear the stack. I've not always had an extinguiher handy when a fire took place and without one here is what I do. First I have a temp gauge on my stack. This has saved my butt a couple of times as the chimney fire does not always make alot of noise until it really gets going but you can sure see that needle from across the room moving up. The gauge lets you catch them early. Next I have a quick access to the stack via a ladder stored near by and a knotted rope laying in the snow on the roof for hand support. When I know that there is a stack fire happening I completely shut the stove down and then get up on the roof. I first grab the china cap which in winter (I live in Tok so cap is off in cold temps) is laying near by, take a capfull of snow with it and dump it in and in the same motion I immediately place the china cap UPSIDE DOWN on the pipe. This effectively seals the stack and the fire quickly goes out with the air shut off below & above. Be careful when placing the cap on as you don't want to get scalded from any steam caused by dumping in that capfull of snow. So do it quick. From stove shut down, settin up the ladder, climbing up onto the roof to the upside down cap takes less then two minutes. And yes the old heart is a pumping!!

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    Default Chimney fires

    In an airtight, I'd open the door and throw a couple handfulls of Baking Soda on the base of the flame, and then close the dampers and the door.Keep an eye outside for falling embers that may land on the deck ect.I burn 24/7 from Oct to June, and clean my chimney every 8 weeks faithfuly.Never had a problem.GR

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    Default chimney fires

    That is too bad on the chimfex factory that sure was good stuff. I brought up about a case when i moved up my last load of tool this summer so i still have some for the future. These are all good ideas, i will call a chimney supply company that i use to use and find out what they are selling now.

    Sweepint
    Wasilla, (when not overseas)
    '' Livn' The Dream ''
    26' Hewescraft Cuddy, twin 115 Yam

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    We've had a few stovepipe fires; they are pretty scary. Like John/Alaska, we have ladder always there outside leaning against roof. If we have stovepipe fire I shut down stove and pipe damper, climb on roof and instead of snow I pour water down pipe (stove does not have glass door). Pretty much puts it right out. Then wait for stove to die out or extinguish fire inside and clean pipe.

    We had one not long ago...stupid really cuz we knew pipe was ready to be cleaned (we clean it about every two weeks) cuz it had been fairly warm and we'd been burning some green wood with it shut down at night...then the deep cold came and we thought with the stove flaring it would burn off slowly, woke up one morn and opened stove up and flared it and heard that roaring sound, go outside and it looks like jet engine afterburner coming out stack. Most of it was actually the last sections of pipe outside the roof or where it was normally cooler and builds up more creasote that were flaming.

    Speaking of...haven't cleaned pipe since then but it's been -50s for two weeks straight now and we've really been flaring the stove quite a bit. Supposed to warm next week and we'll let stove die out and brush the pipe again.

  11. #11

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    knock on wood, I have never had a chimney fire. I have always been told to throw a pan of water on the coals and shut it down and the steam would put the fire out. Is this true? If not then I need to think of a new plan.

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    Default Chimney fires

    If you have a glass door on the stove there is a real good chance that it will blow the glass out. It is called Pyroceran or something like that. It is very expensive to replace. There are some real good ideas on this thread below for chimney fires. I am still trying to get with a chimney supply company that i use to use on what they are selling now since you can not get Chimfex any longer. I am overseas at the present so it is a bit harder to research.

    Sweepint
    Wasilla, (when not overseas)
    '' Livn' The Dream ''
    26' Hewescraft Cuddy, twin 115 Yam

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    Default Chimney fires

    If you have a glass door on the stove there is a real good chance that it will blow the glass out. It is called Pyroceran or something like that. It is very expensive to replace. There are some real good ideas on this thread below for chimney fires. I am still trying to get with a chimney supply company that i use to use on what they are selling now since you can not get Chimfex any longer. I am overseas at the present so it is a bit harder to research. I will find something out soon
    Regards T

    Sweepint
    Wasilla, (when not overseas)
    '' Livn' The Dream ''
    26' Hewescraft Cuddy, twin 115 Yam

  14. #14

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    I read that earlier and am not concearned about it as I have a steel door. My concearn is if it works or not? A few of you seem to have some volinteer experience and training; so I just wanted to know if it worked or if I needed to go buy some better portection.

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    Personally, I've never heard that, even w/ the volunteer training. There may be some ol' timers that it worked good for the older stoves, but I'd be concerned w/ cracking the fire bricks.

    Throwing cold water onto a hot brick / stone can cause them to explode with force, hence the reason most FF's use a chemical extinguisher or foam to put out such a fire.

    If it works, then so be it, but I'll stick to my dry chemical baggies.

  16. #16

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    I think I will jsut buy some chem and not worry about it. Thanks.

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    I've been a full time firefighter for 20+ yrs. I've seen a lot of methods come and go, and what seems to work the best is how we do them now.
    Keep a good sized dry chemical extinguisher handy. If you get a chimney fire, shoot bursts of dry chem into the firebox, and shut the door. If you have a METAL bucket and shovel, try to remove as much of the burning wood and coals if you can do it safely. Take them outside and away from anything combustible. COntinue to shoot dry chem up from below and the draft will pull it up and out the top.

    Trying to drop dry chem baggies from the top never seemed to work too well. THey just end up falling down into the vent pipe and landing on top of the damper. Use the natural draft to pull the chemical upfrom below.

    Make sure to check any chimney chases for fire extention. Overheated or cracked flues can allow fire to get started in attic or chase areas.

    Let the thing cool and clean the chimney. NEVER use water, unless you want to crack the liner and risk spreading a fire.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Autumnarcher View Post
    Keep a good sized dry chemical extinguisher handy. If you get a chimney fire, shoot bursts of dry chem into the firebox, and shut the door.
    What is the life expectancy of a consumer(Fred Myers) ABC fire extinguisher? We have a bunch of them I know some of them are 10 years old.

    I've been lucky in thirty odd years of wood heating I've only had one stack fire, a three story one at lodge I was caretaking several years ago. If you haven't seen 50 foot of creosote light off you haven't lived. It got so hot it turned the fiberglass insulation in the cupola to glass. That was all it took me to figure out I'd rather use flue brush than a pile of chimfex's
    Chuck

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    A chimney fire in itself isn't a big problem. Chimney burn-through is. Because I go riding on winter days while the family stays in I specifically used stainless steel pipe from the stove up. It doesn't rust like black pipe and it has higher heat tolerance. It's been on fire a time or two and it stayed intact until I got things under control. Some guys will say stainless pipe is too expensive. If it saves your home just once it'll look pretty cheap. One fire was with a stove that wasn't particularly good at controlling air flow. I choked it as best I could to slow it down and then a dry chemical fire extinguisher did the trick. That stove has been replaced with one that chokes the air supply to near zero. And since the new stove uses a smaller pipe, that's been replaced, too. It's sleeved through the Metalbestos so now I have triple wall pipe through the roof. Perfect.

    I have fire extinguishers within easy reach all over my cabin. Every one has a gauge on it to see if it's charged fully. I'm anal about fire extinguishers and exit routes when using wood heat. Everyone in the family knows what to do if the smoke alarm goes off. GET THE HECK OUT!!!!

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    By the way, the biggest problem I've seen with chimney fires is old, weak pipe. When that old corroded pipe gets hot enough it'll collapse on itself. If you have an attic that's the most likely place the fire will breach the pipe. If you happen to be near a stove trying to deal with a chimney fire pay close attention to the stack above you. If it comes down you've likely lost the battle, but make sure it doesn't land on you.

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