|Creating a safe fireplace|
Some safety factors to consider when building your fireplace.
To be able to burn coal then you will need a fire grate and fireplace
fret. This allows you to build the fire on a series of cast iron bars
with gaps in-between. The gaps in the grate or firebasket allow air to
get to the coal from underneath. Coal cannot burn unless it has a
supply of air from underneath.
If you only want to burn wood, then a grate or fire basket is not strictly necessary as wood does not need a supply of air from beneath in order to burn well. Wood can be burnt in a fireplace straight on the hearth, if it is made of the correct material, but the more normal way is to use a firebasket. Wood burns very well on a bed of ash. Indeed, if you are only burning wood then letting the ash build up can help a fire burn slowly, if that is what you want.
However a grate and fret or fire basket also serves another purpose: they stop burning pieces of wood from rolling out of the fire into the room. This is an important consideration when creating your fireplace as you will periodically leave the fire unattended.
A grate and fret would be used in a 'standard' fireplace - these are the most common type of fireplaces with a cast fireback often found in Victorian and other period houses.
A firebasket would generally be for use in a larger fireplace, such as the large inglenook fireplaces often found in older houses and pubs.
On a similar vein a fireplace screen stops sparks from flying out of the fireplace into the room. I'm sure we've all seen this happen in a fireplace when burning wood. Usually the spark goes out quickly on it's own or someone gets it and puts it out or gets it back to the fire again, but what if there is no-one there? This is where the fireplace screen comes into it's own, giving you peace of mind when you are not attending to the fire, and meaning that you don't have to watch out for the sparks when you are in the room.