Properly Maintained Chimneys Do Not Cause Accidental Fires
Joseph Barcus, CFEI, CVFI, is a senior fire investigator with Applied Technical Services, Inc.
Chimney Fires account for over 120 million dollars in damage to property every year. The leading factor contributing to home heating fires was failure to clean the chimney system. Improper maintenance to the chimney liners, including not noticing structural problems, can allow high temperatures, sparks and embers to escape to combustible areas in walls, roofs and attics.
It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure their fireplaces and chimneys are properly maintained and operational. NFPA 211, which addresses the inspection of chimneys and fireplaces, promulgates an annual inspection by a qualified inspector performing one of three levels of inspection per this standard. A certified chimney sweep is a qualified inspector.
For Chimney fires, the experts at ATS routinely examine the fire scene following the scientific methodology per NFPA 921 guidelines. ATS utilizes state of the art equipment including a chimney camera, Faro® scanner, and drone to assist in determining the origin and cause of the fire. ATS also has a contingent of engineers with relevant experience to determine if the damage was pre-existing or if the damage was caused by the fire.
ATS leads the industry with its capabilities in fire investigations, forensics analysis and testing. ATS is also an active member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG).