New Canaan Fire Marshal: Fireplace and CO Safety


As the temperature drops as it has been, I begin to worry about a couple of things – CO poisoning and fireplace ash disposal.

Fire Marshal Paul Payne. Credit: Michael Dinan

With the cold weather we tend to close up our homes and our heating systems are working over-time to keep up with the demand. We also want to warm up our cars before we venture out into the cold abyss.

CO (carbon monoxide) is the by-product of incomplete combustion so it can be all around us; cars, boilers, furnaces, water heaters, generators, pressure washers, air compressors, gas fireplaces/logs to name a few.

Following are a few tips to help keep you and your family safe during the cold weather:

  • Always insure fireplace damper is fully open before lighting.
  • You should always use a fireplace screen to stop flying embers.
  • Ashes may contain hot embers for several days. If cleaning is required, use a metal ash bucket with a tight sealing lid, available at most hardware or home improvement stores, for the ashes.
  • Never run vehicles inside the garage – even with the doors open. Back them out.
  • Generators, etc., must be run outdoors: at least 10’ from the structure.
  • Install CO detectors at least one per floor in your home.
  • Have working smoke detectors located at least one per floor in your home and one each sleeping area. 
  • If you have a security system, the smoke detectors are tied to that system. Proper annual servicing is important to insure adequate protection. 
  • Use metal trash cans with a tight lid to dispose ashes – embers can remain hot for several days after the fire has gone out.
  • If your CO detector activates, move to fresh air immediately and call 911. Fire Fighters will respond and meter the structure for CO levels.

Please feel free to contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-594-3030 with any questions. We will even come out to your home to assist is verifying everything is in order.

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