Fire Experts Offer Best Practices For Wood Burning During Colder Months

It’s going to be in the 70s on Christmas Day, but the colder weather is eventually going to find its way to Morris County, and many folks will get their fireplaces roaring or kick on their wood stoves or outdoor wood boilers – if they haven’t already on cooler nights.

County fire experts are joining with the state Department of Environmental Protection in reminding residents to take some basic and prudent steps to reduce their impact on air quality when burning wood for heat, and to ensure safety.

Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.

“The biggest issue is to properly maintain your wood stoves or burners,’’ said James C. Davidson, Morris County assistant fire marshall. “Make sure they are maintained to manufacturer specifications; take the time to ensure they are operating properly. Don’t take short cuts.”

Morris County and the DEP recommend following these environmental and safety guidelines for burning wood at home:

Allow wood to season before burning — allowing wood to sit outdoors for at least six months. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain and sounds hollow when smacked against other wood.

Use a wood moisture meter. Wood burns efficiently with a moisture content below 20 percent.

Stack wood neatly off the ground with the top covered to protect the wood from rain and snow.

Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling. Keep fires burning hot.

Regularly remove ashes to ensure proper airflow.

Never burn garbage, cardboard, plastics, wrapping materials, painted materials or pressure-treated wood.

Keep anything flammable – including drapes, furniture, newspapers and books – far away from any wood-burning appliance. Keep an accessible and recently inspected fire extinguisher nearby.

Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned.

Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.

Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening.


A woodstove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.

In deciding how to heat a home this winter, DEP recommends upgrading to a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified wood stove or fireplace insert.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.