Assistant Fire Chief John T. Fleck of the Lexington Fire Department says cooking in your fireplace is OK and “sounds great.” Before you do, he says, “Make sure the fireplace and chimney are up to code, which means it has been inspected and cleaned.” Fleck also recommends having a fire extinguisher on hand. “I’m old school,” says Fleck. “A cheap option is to fill a coffee can with baking soda and have it nearby.”
Keep children away from the fireplace. Although the flames may be gone, the heat is still intense. When cooking, use fireplace tools to move the coals around, spreading them evenly to create a bed of heat. Use long handled tongs and forks and a pair of heavy fireplace gloves. Stay next to the fireplace while cooking.
Fleck reminds cooks not to close the flue to the chimney until the ashes have completely extinguished. “I know that people are worried about losing heat, but this is very important.” Here are his other suggestions.
10 fireplace tips for cooking
1. Make sure your flue is wide open.
2. Make sure there is a fire-retardant carpet or proper hearth floor in front of the fireplace.
3. Have a good source of ventilation.
4. Check to be certain your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
5. Properly dispose of ashes. Disposal of ashes is done only when they are cooled down and put in a proper container with a lid (fires go out when they are deprived of air). The best way is to let the ashes self-extinguish.
6. Do not wear loose clothing.
7. Use proper tools for cooking: cast-iron (not aluminum), long handled utensils.
8. Have a fire extinguisher nearby.
9. Do not ever use charcoal in the fireplace.
10. Have a small first-aid kit on hand, just in case there are minor burns.