Christmastime – Fire department

fire with green flames burning in a fireplace

Yes, some of the flames are blue and green. We’re just that fancy.

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” combines “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” with, you guessed it, “Carol of the Bells.” Did you think I had forgotten about that song? I first got into the song when I was a freshman in college, and I heard it playing across the hall in Brendan‘s room. I rushed over and asked him what it was, and have been playing it at Christmas ever since.

Fire department

In our previous house, there was a fun tradition where at the start of the holiday season, the neighborhood would suddenly be alerted to a fire truck driving down the street with lights and sirens activated. The kids would run out of their houses, to greet the truck because on the truck was Santa Claus, waving and distributing candy canes. The year before we moved, I’m pretty sure that I was at least a little disappointed that along with the ice cream truck, we would no longer have an annual holiday visit from a fire truck in our more rural location.

On a cold winter’s night, a fire in the fireplace really makes a home feel like a home. It’s so delightful.

I can build a pretty good fire. And when it comes to camping, it’s pretty much the only thing I’m capable of. The key is to build a low-density structure, so it doesn’t smother itself. I say this partly to brag, but also to explain that I don’t build smoky fires, and I know what a downdraft is. For the first few years in our new house, however, the fire department paid us a visit at Christmas in what we eventually accepted as a strange holiday tradition. What would happen was when we had Christmas dinner in the dining room, we would utilize the rarely used fireplace. I would carefully build a reasonably-sized stack of dry, seasoned logs with pleny of newspaper underneath. I’d then check for a downdraft using the rolled-up newspaper technique. Everything seemed to be good to go, but shortly after lighting, it would become obvious that the smoke was not being drawn up the chimney as it should. Smoke would then enter the room. It wasn’t bad (remember, I build clean-burning fires), but as you can imagine any bit of smoke inside the house is never good, and it was certainly enough to set off the smoke detectors. We’d run around and open up windows and wave rolled-up magazines at the smoke detectors, but we couldn’t prevent the inevitable. They would go off, and, being tied to our security system, start a chain of events that would result in the fire department coming to our door. It was embarrassing, because I had plenty of uneventful fireplace fires under my belt. It was later found that the flue was installed in a sub-optimal location. Since the chimney was fixed, we haven’t had any visits from the fire department. We even cooked hot dogs in the dining room fireplace last Christmas. I’m glad we were able to make a simple adjustment instead of abandoning the wood-burning concept altogether and going virtual. (Funny thing about that linked picture… our TV is next to the fireplace, so we had a real and virtual one going at the same time, right next to each other.)

Some may not see work done on the chimney as an improvement. Shortly after we had moved into the house, my uncle was complimenting the recessed lighting just after we had a smoke issue. “I love how you can just see the beam shining down,” he said. It was illuminating the smoke.

5th in a series of Christmasy things.

2 thoughts on “Christmastime – Fire department”

  1. We had a similar issue once, at a New Year’s Eve party. It turns out I sealed all the windows and doors in my house too well – so there was no downdraft, but no incoming air to allow much to go up the chimney. Our guests were amused but not impressed with my homeownership skills.

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