Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Bit Of Excitement

So rather than talking about theory, or planning, or things I have been working on. Today I'm going to talk about a bit of excitement we had recently and what we learned from it.

We had a chimney fire on Friday. Having probably the last really cold day of the season we decided to light up a fire in the wood stove, and be warm and enjoy it, especially since we still have a good bit of wood left. Started off fairly standard procedure, and fairly quickly we had a nice looking fire in the fire place. The lady of the house and I sat down, and watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother on the computer, and as the episode ended, both of us looked with cocked heads at the wood stove.

The vent pipe had just made a crackling noise. Talking about it afterwards we both at that moment had the instinct that we had a chimney fire. I stated I thought we had one, but to let me check something first before she called 911. I went outside, came back in, and promptly started seeing smoke, and the smoke alarms went off shortly after. She went outside and called 911 while I shut down the vent. The 911 operator told her to get everyone and all pets out of the house, and within less than 2 minutes we had all of the animals but one cat who had hidden out of the house.

No more than three minutes after that, the local volunteer fire department started to arrive. Within 5 minutes we had a full crew on scene, which impressed me. I'd like to note that the professionalism and promptness of our fire department very likely kept our house from any damage at all. Thank you to them! They had me get the chimney cleaning brush and extension rods from the basement, and cleaned out the chimney ending the problem promptly. They also noted that we need to get  some sort of road for them to get a truck up next to the chimney side of the house since there isn't one at this time.

Things we did right:
* Have the right size chimney brush and rods, and have it ready to hand. (Apparently we're the only ones they've responded to a chimney fire for that did this year)
* Call 911 promptly.
* Get the animals out of the house promptly.
* Clean and have the chimney inspected before the burning season.

Things we did wrong:
* Call 911 before leaving the house. The 911 operator told us that in the future get out first, call 911 second. It's something they tell you as a kid at school, but we didn't think in that order.
* Not trust our instinct that it was a chimney fire. Better to have them come out and it be fine, than wait too long.
* Not do further research on what our chimney is made out of.

Turns out that Metalbestos, the material that our chimney is made out of, has a few quirks. While it is exceptionally good at preventing fire from spreading out of it, it is not exactly the favored chimney material for the fire fighters in our town. It seems that due to the fact it is metal, and our chimney is long, we have to clean the chimney twice a season rather than once. This wasn't in any of the literature for the chimney, nor had it been the experience of the previous owner. But it seems that due to how fast the smoke cools going up the chimney that it causes more creosote build up, which is what causes chimney fires. So in the future, we know that late December, early January I just have to go out and clean out the chimney and we will most likely avoid this situation in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment