The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in one year, 5,500 fires were attributed to chimneys. As a result of these fires, 130 people died, 230 people were injured, and total property loss was set at more than $184.4 million. In addition, there were a minimum of 119 deaths from carbon monoxide and at least 4,700 injuries were reported for the same time frame, though most estimates range much higher.
The root cause of most of these losses is that most U.S. homeowners are unaware that chimneys are an integral part of a home-heating system, and they require regular evaluation and maintenance. Most homeowners in this area have little working knowledge of chimney and venting systems. The fact that faults, damage, and problems are rarely visible to the casual observer complicates the situation. The threat of chimney fires and unsafe indoor air quality can be greatly reduced, perhaps even eliminated, if homeowners only understood that chimneys require regular maintenance.