When I was quite young, our apartment nearly burned down, it was a single one of those events I remember seeing in the news all of the time and thinking “this could not ever happen to me.” My parents were always so very careful with everything from electrical outlet covers to checking live cables to dumping a bucket of water on the hot coals in the fireplace before bed at night. However, our parents were not exactly careful enough. What began as very a nice little fire to ward off the biting Winter chill without turning up our central heating and a/c, abruptly resulted in a 911 call, however this fire had managed to spread quickly. It didn’t move from the fireplace though, but rather went up it so, my parents were dealing with their first ever active chimney fire. It was on that very night with me and our brother, our mom, and the dogs on the driveway, that our Mom figured out how to care for a fireplace. Ever since then, our Mom was very rigorous in her insistence on fireplace maintenance and she would simply not let us forget it. I still assume I can recite the steps today. Avoid wood with lots of sap. Be sure to sweep the chimney at least once every single year. Don’t burn up paper with lots of ink and try to avoid burning paper or cardboard as much as is possible. There are also chemical mixes which stop creosote from building up inside your fireplace when applied. But since that scary night, I’ve rented several dwellings with operating fireplaces. And even though it’s been well over a decade, I do my utmost to maintain any fireplace or wood burning stove for safe use.