Leading up to National Chimney Safety Week, the Chimney Safety Institute of America today released a press release, with national distribution, promoting the need for homeowners to have their chimney inspected by a qualified professional prior to use.

The news release was sponsored in part by Orion Safety Products, maker of Chimfex, a portable chimney fire extinguisher. The Chimfex is an item that is part of CSIA’s Accepted Products Program.

The news release promotes csia.org/search to locate a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and generally promotes the idea that the fireplace can be a source of cozy comfort, but can also pose issues.

“Chimneys warm the hearth and heart. So don’t give them the cold shoulder when it comes to maintenance,” said Ashley Eldridge, director of education for CSIA.

Almost 1,500 chimney sweeps can be found using CSIA’s free zip-code locator at csia.org/search.

If the media wonders why we issue these alerts, it’s because of the statistics about the number of chimney fires that occur annually and are reported by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The CPSC numbers for 2010-12 aren’t available yet (they are due later this fall), but in August 2013 the CSIA and NCSG reported that the 2009-11 average for the three years was 24,300 with an average of 10 chimney fire-related deaths, with nearly $31 million in damage reported.

With much of the U.S. seeing an early dose of cold weather, many people have lit the first fire, sometimes with dramatic effect.

From Twitter, Sept. 18, 2014

From Twitter, Sept. 18, 2014