Many house fires are caused and can be linked back to your fireplace. There are many ways that you can help eliminate the risk of a house fire and make sure that your fireplace is ready for the cooler seasons. First you will want to hire a chimney sweep. Your chimney needs to be cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year. This will allow a professional to remove any debris and inspect your chimney for any potential problems. They will inspect for any cracks in the structure of your chimney and will make sure that there are no loose bricks. During your inspection you will also want to ask the professional what your options are for a chimney cap. A chimney cap covers the top of the chimney and will prevent birds, squirrels, and debris from falling into the chimney or creating homes in the chimney as well. A professional will be able to clean out any debris and will help you pick the right chimney cap that will better fit your needs. There are some things that you can do on a regular basis that will help eliminate some major problems. One thing that can help is burning seasoned hardwoods. It is best to burn dense wood such as oak that has been stored in a dry place for at least six months. Woods like pine tend to produce more creosote and can lead to house fires. Burning small fires will create less smoke. Smaller fires create less creosote and are not as much of a risk. When building a fire place logs at the rear of the fireplace. Place a screen in front of your fireplace. A screen can be bought at any home improvement store. Screens are great at preventing embers from shooting out of the firebox and creating a small fire in your home.