To start a fire in a fireplace, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends the top-down fire method that requires inspecting the fireplace, stacking fire materials appropriately and igniting them. This procedure creates less smoke and requires no additional handling of materials once the initial flame is started.
- Inspect the fireplace
Have the fireplace inspected by a certified chimney sweep annually to reduce the risk of fireplace malfunction, which can result in smoke or fire in the home.
- Stack fire materials using the top-down method
Stack the largest pieces of dry wood at the bottom of the pile, followed by gradually smaller logs and sticks, ending with the smallest kindling wood and wood shavings at the top of the pile. Wood should be inserted perpendicular to the sides of the fireplace opening, reducing the chance of burning wood rolling out of the fireplace. Stack larger wood to about half of the height of the fireplace opening, and stack smaller wood and kindling on top. Never stack fire-making materials higher than the fireplace opening, or let them extend out of the fireplace opening onto the hearth.
- Ignite the fire
Use a single match to ignite the top layer of shavings and small kindling. If desired, crumpled newspaper can be used in this step rather than lighting the wood directly. The fire eventually spreads from the top of the stack to the lower layers of the stack.
- Stay safe
Observe the fire and never leave it unattended. Be prepared to put the fire out with an extinguisher if smoke or fire is entering living areas. .