Thread: Chimney Chains

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    Default Chimney Chains

    How many departments use them? Typically chimney chain sets are something that are made up by the department and not something you can buy already set up by a fire equipment distributor or anything. Would departments be interested in buying these if there were a market for them and a way to purchase?

    Just looking for some info. Thanks.

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    Rolo:
    We have done exactly what you suggest. That is use chains that have been deemed questionable as to integrity due to excessive strain in one situation or another. A 20 or 30 ft length of 3/8" or 5/16" chain is a load for a firefighter when standing on a snow covered roof, or standing on an extension ladder propped against a free standing masonery chimney. In a recent discussion after a tough job, we decided to try a set-up with a 1/4" aircraft cable and some moderate weights. The cable is wound on a cheap boat winch attached to a couple of angle irons that span the top of the stack and allow the firefighter to wind up the cable with the crank. We have not had occasion to use it in the month since it was completed. Will probably have an opportunity in the next couple of months, or certainly by Christmas Eve when the clueless take to burning all the wrappings while exchanging gifts.

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    We use 4x6 steel washers(plates)on a 1/2" eybolt attached to a 5/16's chain,50' long. T.C.

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    Just use the tip to knock over the chimney......

    We still use em, we actually made one out of four 8 inch pieces of chain clipped together, with a 30 or so foot piece of rope to lower it. The rope takes a lot of wieght off. In our "chimney kit" we also have a coffee can or two of dry powder and a few powder bombs, made of dry chem in a sandwich bag.
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    Default chimney equipment

    We have a selection of tools. We have 5/16" chain with quick link chain connectors on them that attach to different ends. The ends are old window counterbalance weights, a square and round scraper disc welded to a 2 foot long 1/2 " pipe, with rings on each end to push or pull both directions. We also have steel and nylon chimney cleaning brushes and the fiberglass extension rods that go with them. old truck mirrors clamped to a short section of pipe to look up without getting a face full of burning embers. welding blankets to cover floor in front of fireplace, or to put down when taking stove pipe apart. They also can help to use as draft control for fireplaces that don't have a damper. We learned the hard way to use steel connectors and fittings. We used to have fireman style clips on the ends of the chains, but found that they melt when they are subjected to a super hot fire in the chimney. Jon
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    Kuhshise, have you tried your set up in training or anything?

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    What about just blowing some dry chem up the chimeny and letting the draft effect take over?
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    God, I hate chimney chains. We used to use them years ago. I remember one time running the chains up and down a chimney trying to clear the creosote. The fire was still raging so hot down below that as I pulled the chains back up to check everything with the mirror, the links were glowing red and started burning my gloves. I yelled and dropped the chains on the shingle roof and promptly started a small roof fire. Not my best day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief_Roy View Post
    God, I hate chimney chains. We used to use them years ago. I remember one time running the chains up and down a chimney trying to clear the creosote. The fire was still raging so hot down below that as I pulled the chains back up to check everything with the mirror, the links were glowing red and started burning my gloves. I yelled and dropped the chains on the shingle roof and promptly started a small roof fire. Not my best day.
    We have heavy asbestos mittens we use when using the chimney chains.
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    When handling chains, use heavy welding gloves. They still can get pretty hot, so you have to take care.

    Why settle for a small roof fire, just drop them over the side and set the yard, trash, car, [insert something here] on fire...

    Give the guys on the ground something to do.
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    We use powder or whatever means necessary to extinguish the fire. We then check for extension into the attic space. If all is ok we clean up our mess and recommend to the homeowner that they have their chimney cleaned and inspected before using again. We also educate the homeowner on how to minimize creasote buildup. Then we go home.

    We are not chimney sweeps nor are we trained to do so. Chains and the like can damage a chimney if not used properly. I understand community relations and helping folks out but why assume that liability?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blulakr View Post
    We use powder or whatever means necessary to extinguish the fire. We then check for extension into the attic space. If all is ok we clean up our mess and recommend to the homeowner that they have their chimney cleaned and inspected before using again. We also educate the homeowner on how to minimize creasote buildup. Then we go home.

    We are not chimney sweeps nor are we trained to do so. Chains and the like can damage a chimney if not used properly. I understand community relations and helping folks out but why assume that liability?
    I didn't like doing it at the time either, and it made little sense to me. But this was a long time ago when I was a grunt and the chief told me to get my butt up there and run the chains, so I did. I think I actually asked about the reasoning once, and some crusty old timer told me it was because large chunks of creosote could make it tough to make sure the fire was out completely so it was necessary to run the chains to make sure there was nothing remaining to burn in the chimney.

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    Chains may not be needed everytime. But when used, the idea is to break up the fuel so your suppression tactics work better. In most cases, well placed chimney bombs (Sodium bicarbonate filled baggies) will do the trick.

    There are times that chimney bombs will knock down a fire, only to have it rekindle due to excessive build up of fuel (creosote) that is only temporarily reduced to a smolder state. The purpose of the chains is to try to dislodge and break up these clumps.


    _____

    EDIT-> One thing is sure... if you fail to stop the chemical reaction, one of two things are likely to happen;

    1) the fire will extinguish itself as fuel is exhausted (used up).

    2) the fire will continue to grow and extend into attic/structure as building materials begin to fail or ignite.

    So while you may not like to use the chains because they could damage the chimney, it is a better alternative than allowing the fire to extend to the point where the chimney no longer serves any practical application - i.e. the house is gone.

    Not trying to be controversial or cause an issue... just stating a fact.
    Last edited by PaladinKnight; 11-18-2010 at 03:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhacker View Post
    What about just blowing some dry chem up the chimeny and letting the draft effect take over?
    That's OK IF you have a draft. A lot of the time here the creosote creates a plug. So you have to get a hole in it QUICK before it finds the weak spot in the Liner or mortar. We've even had to take a Plumbers snake to them from below to start. T.C.

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    I have to concur with Rescue101. If smoke has built up inside the structure, you don't have a draft. It is plugged.

    Many times your only going to be effective from the top side, and time is critical.

    EDIT->

    It is important to understand what you have and be able to take appropriate action.
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    We don't use chains.

    We put the fire out in the chimney and inform the owner they need a chimney service to clean the chimney. We aren't chimney cleaners.
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    I should make my statement a bit clearer...

    The chains don't clean the chimney, they are only used when necessary to dislodge fuel.

    9 out of 10 times, they are not used.

    I have always advised owners that we cannot clean it, and they should find a qualified sweep. We only put out the fire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    I should make my statement a bit clearer...

    The chains don't clean the chimney, they are only used when necessary to dislodge fuel.

    9 out of 10 times, they are not used.

    I have always advised owners that we cannot clean it, and they should find a qualified sweep. We only put out the fire.
    That makes sense. As a firefighter, I have never encountered a chimney fire that was that difficult to extinguish. Probably because our climate is fairly mild and fireplaces are used less.

    When I was growing up in Wa. State our house had a few chimney fires. Most of the time they would go out when the fireplace was shut down. On one occasion the fire wouldn't go out. The stove pipe was glowing red where it went into the wall. I was twelve and home alone. I was scared poopless. I ended up on the roof pouring a bucket of water down the chimney to extinguish it. I probably damaged the chimney that way but I saved the house.

    After I moved away our house eventually burned while no one was home, likely from another chimney fire.
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    I was twelve and home alone. I was scared poopless.
    Yeah... I saw that movie.


    No doubt water poured down the chimney didn't do the masonary any good by the rapid cooling, but the steam effect most likely put out the fire. You're lucky you didn't get steamed and burned.

    I am amazed how many people still do not know you have to clean their chimney. Or how many tell me they just cleaned it ten years ago, it should be alright.

    My neighbor called me on Friday evening.

    The conversation went like this...

    Him: I seem to have smoke in my den.

    Me: Do you know what is causing it?

    Him: Well, I started a fire in the fireplace about 30 minutes ago.

    Me: Is the damper open?

    Him: Is that the little door up above the logs?

    Me: Yes... is smoke exiting out the top of the chimney?

    Him: I don't see any... What should I look for?

    Me: A firetruck.... it will be there in a few minutes.

    Mim: Is that really necessary... can't you just come over and fix it?

    Me: I'm on the way, but I'll need a few things from the firetruck... called firefighters.
    When I got to his house, he had a garden hose ready to take to the roof and handed it to me. I told him ours was bigger but we might not need it.

    Turned out he had never cleaned the thing and was burning a cardboard box to start the logs.

    It took four chimney bomb and 30 minutes to solve the issue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post

    I am amazed how many people still do not know you have to clean their chimney. Or how many tell me they just cleaned it ten years ago, it should be alright.
    My father still cleans his chimney once per year by stuffing the fireplace box full of crumpled newspaper and torching it off. It drives me crazy, but in 40+ years he's never had a single chimney fire. I guess it must work, and I also guess whoever built his chimney must have built it bomb-proof.

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    There are some folks that build controlled fires in their flue. They put a thermometer on the stack, get the temperature to 500 dgerees and then close the flue. In theory, the temperature of the fire in the flue will rise to 550 degrees and then extinguish itself rapidly. I have not seen this first hand, but a few oldtimers swear by it and never cleaned the flue.
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    Gotta love the old timers. Been doing for YEARS. Some do real well,some have ripping chimney fires and SOME don't realize that the fire is NO longer in the chimney until they see the wallpaper bubbling. BTDT. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Gotta love the old timers. Been doing for YEARS. Some do real well,some have ripping chimney fires and SOME don't realize that the fire is NO longer in the chimney until they see the wallpaper bubbling. BTDT. T.C.
    Totally a tangent, but that reminds me of the worst "chimney" fire I ever saw. Guy had bought this house and had lived in it for a couple of years. One cold winter day he finally decides to start a fire in the downstairs fireplace. Starts getting some smoke backing up in to the room so he stokes it up hotter as he figures he's not getting a good draft. 15 minutes later a neighbor alerts him to flames coming out of his roof. Long story short, the whole place burned to the ground. Turns out his second floor had been remodeled years prior and they removed the chimney between the second floor and roof. It basically just ended in the attic. Big oops.
    Last edited by Chief_Roy; 11-18-2010 at 09:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Gotta love the old timers. Been doing for YEARS. Some do real well,some have ripping chimney fires and SOME don't realize that the fire is NO longer in the chimney until they see the wallpaper bubbling. BTDT. T.C.
    Last summer we were called to an "old timers" place, he was burning a refrigerator in the front yard. He said it was too dirty to clean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    When handling chains, use heavy welding gloves. They still can get pretty hot, so you have to take care.

    Why settle for a small roof fire, just drop them over the side and set the yard, trash, car, HOSEBED on fire...

    Give the guys on the ground something to do.


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