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Fire Corner: Tips for homeowners to stay warm in the cold winter

The West Fargo Fire Department, seen Friday, July 20, 2018, recently completed renovations for new sleeping quarters in its upper level. Erin Bormett / The Forum

With the heating season well upon us, it seems fit to talk about fire safety in relation to heating


It is all too common to take appliances for granted when they are a fixture in your home. Appliances can be anything from refrigerators, stoves and for the sake of this article "furnaces".

Whether your furnace is natural gas, propane or electric; maintenance of these units still need to be completed.

A simple call to a certified heating contractor for an annual maintenance check can ease your mind when cold weather is knocking at your front door. A heating contractor will make sure your furnace is running efficiently (getting most heat from the fuel used) and clean the furnace thoroughly.

Cost is a factor when hiring a professional to do work for you. But consider the alternative when it is 30 below outside and your furnace stops.

So what can you do as a homeowner?

Here are a few tips to keep your furnace fire safe;

- Keep a minimum 3 foot clearance around your furnace.

- Do not store flammable or combustible liquids in the furnace room.

- Change your furnace filter on a regular basis

- Keep all covers on furnace

- Do not attempt to work on, or clean interior of furnace. This should be done by a qualified

heating contractor.

- All space heaters should have a minimum 3 foot clearance.

- Never use your stove / oven as a heat source.

- Have a Carbon Monoxide Detector installed in the area you spend the majority of your time. Do not install it in the furnace room.

- Have a working smoke detector on each level of the home at a minimum.

Remember all heating units (with the exception of electric) produce a flame. Although the flame is concealed, storage near the unit has the potential to start a fire.

As far as electric furnaces, these units still need to be cleaned and filters replaced periodically.

Some homes have electric baseboard heat and all though maintenance of this type of heating is minimal to none, it still is imperative to keep space in front of registers. A minimum of 6 inches is recommended in front and above registers.

Electric registers produce heat, which will degrade drapes, furniture, etc. over time and can start a fire if stored to close. Electric registers are out of sight, out of mind, so please be aware of items being next to them.

Have a fire safe February.

Fire Marshal

Dell Sprecher