Vacation Rental Fire Safety

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Do you have an open fire or wood stove at the cottage? If so, do you allow your renters to use it? Do you supply clear and concise instructions on its use?

Julie Nelson at Cottage Daily highlighted the potential for a mishap in her post Fire Safety at the Cabin – a cautionary tale for anyone who is not familiar with using an open fire or wood stove.

With safety issues it is better to assume your renters have total ignorance rather than expecting them to have common sense. We supply a metal bucket in our cottage for guests to use to dispose of ashes from the fire before they leave. This did not prevent one rental group from using the vacuum cleaner to empty them out. When we arrived to check the cottage after the renters left, there was a distinct smell of burning plastic, and we found the vacuum cleaner smouldering in the cleaning cupboard. When we contacted the guests to ask about it, they claimed the ashes were cold. Clearly not!

We were very fortunate in that case but it has highlighted (no pun intended!) the need for exceptionally clear instructions on the use of wood stoves and open fireplaces.

I met a client at a Cottage Show recently whose cottage had burnt to the ground the previous weekend. They were in residence at the time and thankfully the whole family escaped injury, but the cottage is no more. I'm not sure of the whole story but I understand the wood stove was the cause. It was a very old cottage and I assume the stove was of the same age. If you are renting out a property with a wood stove that does not meet code and have a WETT certificate, your insurance may not cover you in the event of a disaster.

Having a fireplace is wonderful and a great attraction for rental guests. Providing it meets your insurance requirements, the chimney is cleaned regularly, you have specific instructions on its use and are comfortable that your guests will follow them, you should have no problems.