BOZEMAN – It’s that time of year when people are using their fireplaces and wood stoves again. Here are a few tips for how to lessen the dangers when you light up a fire.

Fireplace and chimneys have been out of use all summer long, but now with the colder weather, it’s that time of year to get them inspected and cleaned.

“How long and how cold it is and how much wood you’re burning- the chimney could become coated and become a fire hazard,” said Central Valley Fire Marshal Bruce Hennequin.

“Obviously if you’re using a wood-burning appliance, wood stove, fireplace, anything along that line, we encourage you to have the chimney inspected and cleaned at least annually if not twice a year depending on how long and how cold it is and how much wood you’re burning,” said Hennequin.

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“Getting a qualified chimney sweep or doing it yourself with the proper equipment is the number one safety feature that any homeowner needs to do,” added Tony Blomert, with Bare’s Stove & Spa.

“Keep the combustibles a minimum of 3 feet away from appliances,” said Hennequin. “I prefer five feet but three feet is the normal recommendation from the NFPA and other sources. So I would strongly recommend everyone to prepare and make their systems are in good working order and cleaned and ready for a potentially cold winter.

For a checklist of what you need to do to prepare your fireplace to have it in good working order, check out these sites:

MTN’s Kenneth Webb