Obviously before this happens!
Unfortunately, this resulted in a fatality from a flue fire. The National Fire Protection Association, Standard 211, says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary”. This is the national safety standard for chimneys and vents. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may build nest in the flue or there be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/4″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable build up occurs. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.
HOW TO: Safely Use Your Fireplace: Proper use is critical to safe and efficient operation of any fireplace. When you light a fire, keep in mind the following considerations:
The damper must be fully open before starting a fire and left open until the fire is out. If a source for outside air for combustion exists be sure that it is open before you light the fire.
Don’t overload the fireplace. If you do, burning logs could roll out. Never use wet or green wood.
The fireplace will emit more radiant heat with the glass doors open. Be sure to close the screen to prevent sparks from flying out into your living room. Close the glass doors to reduce heat loss from the room into the chimney only when your fire is dying down. Glass doors on a factory-built fireplace must be tested and listed for that particular fireplace. It can be dangerous to use the wrong set of glass doors on your fireplace.
Do not burn Christmas trees or a lot of paper in your fireplace. These types of fires, which get very hot very quickly, are extremely dangerous to the area surrounding your fireplace and can warp the doors or break the glass.
Annual inspection and cleaning as required of your factory-built fireplace and chimney is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
With attention to these details, fireplaces can allow homeowners to add the warmth and glow of a fireplace to almost any part of their house for a minimal investment. (Provided by the Chimney Safety Institute of America)