For Immediate Release:
December 24, 2013

Tammori Petty
Sean L. Conner
(609) 292-6055





TRENTON, NJ - The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety would like to remind residents with wood, pellet and coal-burning stoves, wood burning fireplaces and space heaters, that they can result in fire from careless operation. While this type of home heating is generally safe, they can be hazardous if not properly installed and more importantly, properly maintained.

“The most common pitfall of this type of home heating is its by-product, creosote. Creosote, a tarry, by-product of burning wood, can coat the inside of the chimney flue over time,” said William Kramer, Jr., Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety. “The resulting build-up can ignite, which is the reason for most chimney fires. Chimney fires can quickly become structure fires if not caught in time,”

The best way to prevent a problem is to have the chimney checked and cleaned before the heating season begins. A licensed chimney sweep and a qualified mason should examine the flue and chimney stone and brick work for any cracks or leaks that could cause combustion gases to leak into the living area. A similar inspection should be performed for coal, wood, or pellet-burning stoves. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and maintained to provide protection for your dwelling and your family.

Any new coal, wood or pellet-burning stove, or fireplace must have a local permit from the construction official and meet minimum building code standards.

Once these checks have been completed, there are additional measures to take to make certain that the heating season does not result in harm to you, your dwelling, or your family.

  • Wood, pellet and coal-burning stoves, wood burning fireplaces and space heaters should be placed three feet from any combustibles.
  • Do not share a common flue with other conventional heating sources such as a gas fired hot air furnace.
  • Use only seasoned wood, approved pellets or coal in the respective stove type.
  • Dispose of ash in an approved covered container, outdoors and away from the home.
  • DO NOT use lighter fluid or flammable liquid to light a fire.
  • Keep stove door closed and use a fire screen.
  • NEVER place ash pit remains indoors.
  • Check that the damper is open before lighting the fire. Failure to do so can result in an accumulation of smoke and carbon monoxide within the home.
  • Do not close the damper before the fire has died out and the embers are cold.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent flying sparks and embers from falling out onto the floor.

Kerosene Space Heaters


  • Use only the recommended fuel by the unit manufacturer. Usually located on the non-removable manufacturer’s label.
  • The best general rule for any portable heater is to keep it at least 3 feet away from anything.
  • Never move a space heater that is on.
  • Keep small children and pets away from the unit.


Electric heaters come with inherent dangers and require an equal amount of caution concerning their use:

Electric Space Heaters

  • If in the market for a new heater for the season check for Independent Consumer Service approval and a “tip switch” that is designed to shut the unit off if it has moved.
  • Heaters with exposed elements are being phased out. Look for those with permanently sealed heat transfer fluid or so-called ceramic heaters.
  • Use the general three feet from anything rule.
  • Keep unit away from “burnables” shag carpet, curtains or loose clothing.
  • Check for frayed or cut supply wire.
  • DO NOT use it with an ordinary extension cord. Use a heavy-duty cord and run it out of the path of household traffic.
  • If the plug or cord is hot to the touch, shut it off immediately. Return the unit or if it’s old dispose of it.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs.


Tammori Petty
Sean Conner
(609) 292-6055