Putnam County Director of Consumer Affairs Jean Noel, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith are reminding residents that autumn is the time for annual chimney inspections and related services to usually occur.
According to the United States Fire Administration, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the risks when heating with wood and solid fuels. Heat fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.
Extra vigilance should be given to those working on residential chimneys. Each year, the county’s consumer affairs department receives reports of unregistered chimney sweeps operating in Putnam County. The average person cannot discern whether chimney repairs are truly needed, or whether the work is completed properly. Improper work can result in dangerous, even deadly, carbon monoxide leaks and fires.
Director Noel, County Executive Odell and Sheriff Smith are urging residents to have their chimneys inspected and serviced by a reputable company to prevent fire-related tragedies from occurring. They recommend that homeowners contact the local consumer affairs office to ensure the prospective contractor is properly registered to do the work. The Putnam County Department of Consumer Affairs may be reached on their web site: www.putnamcountyny.gov\consumeraffairs or by calling Director Noel at 845-808-1617 ext 46128.
According to Sheriff Smith, each year, investigators from his Bureau of Criminal Investigation in conjunction with consumer affairs officials investigate complaints involving unregistered chimney sweeps operating in Putnam County. The Sheriff noted that it is a class “A” misdemeanor to conduct a home improvement business in this county without being registered to do so. A conviction of this statute may result in a $1,000 fine for each occurrence and a jail term of up to one year in the Putnam County Correctional Facility as determined by a court.