Many fires during the holiday season can be avoided according to the Midwest Chimney Safety Council, whose members are professional chimney sweeps, firemen, and chimney technicians.
The NFPA 211 Standard for Chimneys, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances requires a 36” clearance to combustibles in front of fireplaces, and at least 12” clearance above the opening of fireplaces. Heat can cause combustible items to ignite without the direct application of flame.
Many homeowners miss the obvious fire risk of hanging stockings "by the chimney with care." but Midwest Chimney Safety Council President Steve Hoover, of Lucky Sweep Chimney Service and Sales, LLC in Versailles, Missouri said that “We want people to be aware of fire hazards associated with fireplaces in order to prevent unnecessary loss of life and property.” Hoover is also a volunteer fireman.
Hoover recommends that homeowners do not hang stockings over the fireplace while it is in use – but to remove them and replace after the fire is out, and to keep all combustible materials such as wood, presents, and furniture at least three feet away from hearth appliances. Combustibles do not need flame to ignite - only heat.