EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

August 5, 2008

Installing a wood stove? You might need a permit

Call for a permit now — or call for a fire later.

Most local towns require residents to have wood and pellet stoves inspected when they are installed. Some fire departments conduct inspections for a fee and others do it for free.

Given the high price of heating oil, many people are installing other heat sources and area fire officials said they wish more of those people would have stoves inspected before it's too late.

Atkinson requires a permit, but fire Chief Michael Murphy said he doesn't think many people know that's the case. He's responded to calls and seen the results of people installing wood stoves on their own.

"In most cases, if they have just installed it without calling us first, nine out of 10 times it would fail an inspection for one reason or another," Murphy said.

When wood stoves are incorrectly installed, it can cause chimney fires and smoke in the house, he said. When pellet stoves are incorrectly installed, they can cause carbon monoxide detectors to go off, he said.

A $25 permit can help prevent that, he said.

"It would be nice if stores said something," Murphy said. "And if you look at the instruction manuals, the third paragraph says to consult fire officials."

Hampstead fire Chief Chip Hastings said he always has a steady number of people asking for inspections, but fears that could change, especially for elderly people on fixed incomes.

"I'm a little concerned about what the winter has in store for us," he said. "Something is going to suffer, I'm afraid, so we need to stress that safety be paramount."

Many insurance companies require people to have wood and pellet stoves professionally installed, but Hastings said there are still a fair number of residents who try to do it themselves. That can be fine, as long as they don't cut corners, he said.

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