Closed Flues To Blame For Fireplace-Related Carbon Monoxide Incidents

Incident Type: 
Carbon Monoxide
Friday, November 19, 2021 - 11:27pm
Friday, November 19, 2021 - 11:33pm
5300 block Vicar Lane
Madison, WI

A pair of carbon monoxide (CO) incidents this week were traced back to home fireplaces, prompting a reminder from firefighters to make sure your flue is open when using the fireplace.

On Friday, November 19, at 11:27 p.m., Engine Co 5 responded to the 5300 block of Vicar Lane where a family woke up to the sound of their CO alarm. An occupant said they had a fire in the fireplace that evening and he shut the flue. Hours later, upon hearing their CO alarm, they stepped out of the house and called 911. Firefighters detected approximately 50 parts per million in the home’s entryway, and levels climbed as they approached the living room fireplace. Engine 5 confirmed none of the home appliances, like the furnace, were generating carbon monoxide. The crew opened windows and situated a fan in the home to circulate fresh air before the family returned inside.

Engine Co. 9 responded to the 4100 block of Hillcrest Drive at 7:06 p.m. Tuesday, November 23. There, it was also reported that the home fireplace was in use and that the flue had been closed for a period of time. Firefighters surveyed the home and found low levels of CO, around 11-19 parts per million. Several windows were opened to allow fresh airflow.

There were no reports of carbon monoxide-related illnesses during either call, and the carbon monoxide buildups were caught early because the homes were equipped with working CO detectors. Fireplace users are reminded to keep their dampers and flues open while using the fireplace so air can flow properly out of the chimney.

For more information about carbon monoxide, its effects, and where to place your CO alarms, visit our Carbon Monoxide Alarms resource page.

Posted 11/24/2021 - 1:01pm

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)