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It's time for all good homeowners to come to aid of their chimneys


Forest Grove Fire & Rescue lends brushes to clean sooty residue

With the summer heat, it can be easy for homeowners to forget about crackling fires, cozy pellet stoves — and the dangerously combustible soot that naturally builds up in their chimneys.

But if the soot buildup goes unattended, it can potentially catch fire when you next use your wood stove or fireplace, and spread into the house.

That’s why Forest Grove Fire & Rescue lets homeowners who don’t have chimney brushes borrow them for free from the fire station at 1919 Ash St.

The check-out period is 24 hours, and the station has various sizes of brushes to fit both square and round chimneys.

“We provide people with basic tools to prevent fires,” said Forest Grove Fire Inspector Chris Woodford, who suggests that now is a good time for people to clean their chimneys — a chore they should undertake at least once a year.

The free rentals began in 2009, and during peak times FGF&R has seen multiple rentals a week of common brush sizes — so “now’s the time to come in before the fall rush and get the equipment needed to check ‘cleaning your chimney’ off your honey-do list,” said fire department spokesman Dave Nemeyer.

Cleaning a chimney is “relatively easy for the average do-it-yourselfer,” Nemeyer added, but fire officials suggest that if you have an older chimney, you should have it professionally inspected by a home heating contractor to ensure that cleaning is the only maintenance it needs.

Last year there were 12 chimney fires in Forest Grove. Thirty-eight people rented brushes in 2012, compared to 33 the previous year.

Simple things such as burning dry wood, and not burning garbage, “will help slow the creosote that builds as smoke cools inside your chimney” and combustible particles settle on its walls, said Nemeyer.

Woodford said people should measure their chimneys before coming to the station to check out brushes. Last winter, FGF&R also purchased a brush for cleaning out the vent of a pellet stove as an option for residents who use the stoves as their heat source.

For more information, call the FGF&R business office at 503-992-3240.