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Home Heating Fire Safety Issues. NEW HAMPSHIRE DIVISION OF FIRE SAFETY. NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE. Special thanks to the Vermont Division of Fire Safety for providing slides for the presentation. Division of Fire Safety . BACKGROUND. BACKGROUND FACTS.

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home heating fire safety issues
Home Heating

Fire Safety Issues




special thanks to the vermont division of fire safety for providing slides for the presentation
Special thanks to the Vermont Division of Fire Safety for providing slides for the presentation
background facts

In the 1970s and early 1980s, New Hampshire residents attempted to reduce their heating expenses by using more wood stoves and alternative heating devices.

Data from NFPA indicates a 35,000- fire increase in one- and two-family dwelling heating fires from 1979 to 1980 alone.

  • Heating remains the # 1 cause of structure fires in New Hampshire.
  • During times of high fuel costs, we will likely see a significant increase in fires and fire deaths.
  • Many older New Hampshire dwellings lack basic modern safety devices. (Smoke Alarms and Fire Sprinklers)
  • We have already seen heating system related fire and carbon monoxide deaths in New Hampshire this year.
stratford new hampshire march 25 2008
Stratford New HampshireMarch 25, 2008
  • Three fatalities
  • Improperly installed wood stove
  • Exit blocked by snow
  • Possibly non-functioning smoke detector
  • No residential fire sprinklers
  • Family could not afford heating oil

Our Current Situation

Heating oil and gasoline costs continue to be high, New Hampshire citizens are looking for alternative solutions to heating their homes during the upcoming winter season.

Many are again turning to space heaters, fireplaces and wood burning stoves to help save money, which can be effective cost saving alternatives, but also present significant fire dangers if not properly installed and maintained.

We have already seen a big increase in wood and pellet stove sales over this summer. It is projected that we will see also see an increase in residential fires as well as carbon monoxide incidents because of the increased use of alternative heating devices.


Division of Fire Safety

In light of our current situation, the New Hampshire Division of Fire Safety and the Vermont Division of Fire Safety, have joined forces in an proactive educational approach to inform the citizens of both states about safety precautions, to keep their families safe and warm.

how can we prevent a repeat of what happened in the 80s
How can we prevent arepeat of what happened in the 80s ?



  • Use Smoke and CO Detectors
  • Maintain Proper Clearances
  • Maintenance of Equipment
  • Proper Venting of Appliances
  • Home Fire Sprinkler System
what we are doing
  • Increased Inspections in residential properties
  • Improved fire safety
      • Improved smoke detectors in residential properties
      • Periodic inspection of heating appliances
  • Public Education on heating safety - media campaign
      • Public Events – Fire Prevention Education
      • Media Push – Press Releases
  • Fire Safety information sections on the DFS web page.



Division of Fire Safety



Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires in New Hampshire. Very often heating related fires are the result of improper installation, a lack of maintenance, or simple acts of carelessness.

conventional wood stoves and fire place inserts
Conventional Wood Stoves and Fire Place Inserts
  • Efficiency range: 54%
  • Manual ash cleanout
  • Manual stoking
  • Harmful levels of particulate matter and creosote buildup.
epa certified stoves
EPA Certified Stoves

Non-catalytic Multi-chamber Stove

  • Broader tolerance for temperature range
  • Manual ash cleanout
  • Manual stoking
  • Efficiency: 68%

Catalytic Stove

  • Lower Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and particulate emissions compared to conventional wood stoves
  • Over firing will damage catalytic converter
  • High maintenance
  • Manual ash cleanout
  • Manual stoking

Compared to conventional wood stoves, EPA certified wood stoves are up to 70% more efficient and uses 30% less wood.

catalytic wood stoves
Catalytic Wood Stoves

Catalytic stoves. These stoves use a catalytic

combustor that operates on the same principle as the catalytic converter in your car.

Advanced combustion woodstoves provide a lot of heat but only work efficiently when the fire burns at full throttle. Also known as secondary burn stoves, they can reach temperatures of 1100°F.

the firebox is insulated, which reflects heat back to it, ensuring that the turbulent gases stay hot enough to burn. New advanced combustion stoves have advertised efficiencies of 60%–72%.


Catalytic combustors need to be inspected at least three times every heating season and replaced according to the manufacturer\'s recommendations.

The catalytic cell is removable and replaceable and costs between $75 and $160.

Because a lot of energy can be wasted burning wet wood, you should use wood that has been properly seasoned.

Properly seasoned wood is harvested in the spring and allowed to dry throughout the summer. Look for wood that is of even color, without any green. It should have a moisture content of just over 20%–25% by weight.

pellet stoves

Pellet stoves. Some stoves burn fuel pellets manufactured from wood or other biomass.

With a pellet stove, you load batches of

fuel into a hopper. A motorized auger, controlled by a dial or thermostat, then moves the pellets into the stove as needed. A small fan controls air flow in the combustion process.

Pellet stoves, like the other stove types, have advantages and disadvantages.

a pellet stove is often cheaper to install than a cordwood-burning heater. Many can be direct-vented and do not need an expensive chimney or flue. As a result, the installed cost of the entire system may be less than that of a conventional wood stove.

Pellet Stoves

Pellet appliances are more complex and have expensive components that can break down. They also require electricity to run fans, controls, and pellet feeders.

For pellet-fuel appliances, it is very important to follow the manufacturer\'s instructions for operation and maintenance. Inspect fans and motors regularly, and maintain them properly.

You can check pellet fuel quality by inspecting the bag for excessive dirt and dust. (Dirt can form clinkers in the stove.) There should be less than one half of a cup of dust at the bottom of a 40 pound (18 kg) bag. Pellet stoves designed for low-ash (typically top-fed stoves) tend to operate poorly when used with pellets of a higher ash content.

electric heaters
Electric heaters

Even though electric space heaters don\'t have an open flame, the heating elements of some types of electric heaters are hot enough to ignite nearby combustibles like draperies, paper, clothing, furniture, and flammable liquids. It is, therefore, important to check surrounding objects

Only use heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety listing. Read and follow all instructions in the owner\'s manual.

The heater should be placed on the floor, away from combustible materials, and out of high-traffic areas.

Never put anything on top of your space heater.

Never leave the heater unattended or with unsupervised children.

Electric heaters should be unplugged if you go to bed or leave the house.

Plug the heater directly into the wall. Don\'t use an extension cord, Don\'t overload your outlets. do not insert more than two plugs into one outlet.

un vented heaters
Un-Vented heaters
  • Un-vented heaters are allowed in
  • New Hampshire
  • If a un-vented heater is used:
  • Must meet UL Standard 647 or ANSI Z21.11.2
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for operation and refueling.
  • Always provide adequate ventilation
  • Never refuel a kerosene heater when it is still hot.
  • Always refuel a kerosene heater outdoors away from the house, never on a porch or in a garage.
un vented heaters25
Un-Vented heaters

NFPA 54 Chapter 10

  • Prohibits the installation of un-vented room heaters in bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Prohibits the use of un-vented room heaters in Residential Board & Care and Health Care Facilities
nfpa 58 lp gas code
NFPA 58 LP Gas Code


“In areas where heavy snowfall is anticipated, piping, regulators, meters, and other equipment installed in the piping system shall be protected from the forces anticipated as a result of accumulated snow.”


Division of Fire Safety


NFPA 211-Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
  • NFPA 31-Standard for the Installation of Oil-Burning Equipment
  • NFPA 54 – Fuel Gas Code
  • NFPA 58 - Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code
  • Manufacturer’s Instructions
nfpa 211 chapter 9 chimney connectors and vent connectors
NFPA 211 Chapter 9 Chimney Connectors and Vent Connectors
  • 9.7.12 A connector serving a gas or oil appliance shall not be connected to a chimney flue serving a factory-built fireplace unless specifically listed for such installation.
  • 9.7.13 A connector serving a gas or oil appliance shall be permitted to be connected to a masonry fireplace flue if one of the following conditions is met:

(1) The fireplace opening is sealed.

(2) The chimney flue that vents the

fireplace is permanently sealed below

the connection.

nfpa 211 chapter 9 chimney connectors and vent connectors 9 8 interconnection
NFPA 211 Chapter 9 Chimney Connectors and Vent Connectors ~ 9.8 Interconnection.
  • 9.8.1 Connectors serving appliances operating under natural draft shall not be connected into any portion of a mechanical draft system operating under positive pressure.
  • 9.8.2 Unless listed for such connection, solid fuel-burning appliances shall not be connected to a chimney flue serving another appliance.
NFPA 211

9.8.3 Gas utilization appliances and appliances burning liquid fuel shall be permitted to be connected to one chimney flue through separate openings or shall be permitted to be connected through a single opening, provided they are joined by a suitable fitting located as close as practicable to the chimney and provided both of the following apply:

(1) Sufficient draft is available for the safe combustion of each appliance and for the removal of all products of combustion.

(2) The appliances so connected are equipped with primary safety controls and all appliances are located in the same room.

nfpa 211 chapter 12 solid fuel burning appliances
NFPA 211 Chapter 12 Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
  • 12.2 Location of Appliances.
  • 12.2.2 Solid fuel-burning appliances shall not be installed in alcoves or enclosed spaces less than 512 ft3 (14.5 m3) unless specifically listed for such use.
  • 12.2.3 Solid fuel-burning appliances shall not be installed in any location where gasoline or any other flammable vapors or gases are present.
  • 12.2.4 Solid fuel-burning appliances shall not be installed in any garage.
nfpa 211 chapter 12 solid fuel burning appliances33
NFPA 211Chapter 12 Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
  • 12.3.1 Solid fuel-burning appliances shall be installed in a location and manner so as to provide ventilation and combustion air supply to allow proper combustion of fuel, chimney draft, and maintenance of safe temperatures.
  • 12.3.2 Where buildings are so tight that normal infiltration does not provide the necessary air, outsideair shall be introduced.

Additional Notes from NFPA 211

  • Solid fuel-burning appliances shall not be installed in any garage.
  • Solid fuel-burning appliances shall not be installed in any location where gasoline or any other flammable vapors or gases are present.
  • A connector serving a gas or oil appliance shall not be connected to a chimney flue serving a factory-built fireplace unless specifically listed for such
  • fuel-burning appliances shall not be installed in alcoves or enclosed spaces less than 512 ft3 (14.5 m3) unless specifically listed for such use.

Additional Notes From NFPA 211

Appliances listed for installation with clearances less than specified in Table 12.6.1 of NFPA 211 shall be permitted to be installed in accordance with the terms of their listing and the manufacturer\'s instructions.


Division of Fire Safety


heating appliances common issues
  • Clearance to Combustibles
  • Maintenance
  • Proper Installation
heating appliances clearances

A common hazard is the storage of combustible materials where they can be ignited by heat radiated by a furnace, stove, or other heating appliance.


the National Fire Protection

Association (NFPA) has established guidelines for chimney connectors and clearances. In NFPA 211

heating appliances common issues40
  • Flues and smoke pipes can constitute a hazard; both should be kept in good condition and have adequate clearance from any combustibles.
  • Flues should be cleaned annually and inspected for damage or holes. In addition, throughout the heating season, checks for creosote buildup in the flue pipe.
heating appliances maintenance
  • To keep your wood- or pellet-burning system operating efficiently and safely, you\'ll need to maintain it on a regular basis.
  • a certified chimney sweep should have the knowledge to help make sure your appliance, hearth, connecting pipe, air inlets, chimney, and all other components are functioning efficiently and safely.
heating system maintenance highlights
Heating System Maintenance Highlights

Every year, preferably before each heating season, have a certified chimney sweep inspect your wood-burning system.

In addition to cleaning the chimney, a certified chimney sweep should have the knowledge to help make sure your appliance, hearth, connecting pipe, air inlets, chimney, and all other components are functioning efficiently and safely.

chimneys and stovepipes
Chimneys and Stovepipes

A chimney is a critical part of your wood heating system. It carriers smoke out of the house, and creates the suction or draft necessary to draw air to the fire. A well designed chimney allows the stove to operate cleanly, producing a minimum amount of smoke and creosote.

Chimney height is critical to creating proper draft and meeting fire codes. The chimney should extend at least three feet above the point where it exits the roof, and should be a minimum of two feet higher than any part of the roof within ten feet.

All chimneys require regular inspection for deterioration and creosote buildup. The chimney should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year, as often as biweekly if you use your wood stove daily.

heating appliances safety
  • Have equipment professionally installed
  • Make sure to have any fireplace and chimney inspected that has not been used for any extended period of time
  • Never leave fire unattended
  • Annual chimney inspection by certified chimney sweep
  • Proper spacing from upholstery, carpeting and furniture
  • Apply appropriate precautions: keepchildren away from operating stove

Division of Fire Safety


smoke alarms it s the law
Smoke Alarms-It’s the Law

RSA 153:10-a Fire Protection and Warning Devices in Multi-Family Dwellings. –

    I. Each unit contained in a multi-unit dwelling shall be equipped with automatic fire warning devices. On every floor level and in each common stairway and in each common hallway of a multi-unit dwelling, there shall be an automatic warning device.

    II. Every single family dwelling which is built or substantially rehabilitated after January 1, 1982, shall be equipped with an automatic fire warning device.

smoke alarms cont
Smoke Alarms (Cont.)

II-a. Every rental unit as defined in RSA 153:1, IX-a shall be equipped with at least one automatic fire warning device. An automatic fire warning device shall be located in each hallway or area which is adjacent to a sleeping area. The provisions of this paragraph shall be in addition to any requirements under paragraph II. The owner of the rental unit shall be responsible for maintaining the automatic fire warning device in a suitable condition.

nfpa 101 life safety code 2003 edition
NFPA 101,Life Safety Code2003edition

New One & Two Family Dwellings

  • Smoke alarms shall be:
    • Installed in all sleeping rooms in other than existing one- and two-family dwellings.
    • Outside of each separate sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms.
    • On Each level of the dwelling unit, including basements.
    • They must be interconnected.

International Residential Building Code 2006 has similar language.

carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • New Hampshire does not currently require carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are recommended by the Division of Fire Safety.
  • Please support us when we move to change that.
other common issues
Other Common Issues

Careless Use of Smoking Materials and Matches.

Electrical Installations.

Flammable Liquids.

Housekeeping, Storage, and Rubbish Hazards.

Fire Extinguishers.

Residential Automatic Sprinkler Systems.


This material was compiled by the New Hampshire and Vermont Divisions of Fire Safety from a variety of sources including

Consumer Product Safety Commission

United States Fire Administration

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Department of Energy

Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association


American Gas Association.

Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Information Center

American Red Cross

Underhill-Jericho Fire Dept. woodstove inspectionprogram

Thank You

Have a Fire Safe Day