An open fire not only makes an interesting focal point in a room, it also provides a homely, cosy warmth and casts a flattering glow throughout. However there’s a knack to starting a fire and keeping it going and, like any job, you need the right tools.
How fire bellows work
A fire needs first of all an ignition source, then to keep going it needs fuel and oxygen. The last can be difficult to access so a set of fire bellows can deliver oxygen to a dying fire. They use an air bladder with intakes and outflows which, used from a distance of about a foot, will target a good blast of air into a fire struggling to take hold, raise the heat output of an existing fire or bring flames back to a set of fading embers.
Different kinds of bellows have various applications in engineering, but a set of fire bellows tends to follow a basic construction method. A pair of wooden boards is connected by flexible leather side panels to form an airtight cavity. A set of handles allows the bag to be opened and closed while an entrance valve allows air to enter the cavity when the handles open, which then exits with some force through a nozzle at the bottom when the handles are brought together. Of course pursing your lips and blowing can have a similar effect but also risks leaving you covered with ash!
Fire bellows, companion sets and hearth tidies
While real fires have a beautiful effect, they are undeniably dirty, so the correct companion tools are an essential investment. A set of fire bellows as already discussed is worthwhile, as is a hearth tidy. This is a small dustpan and brush set made to withstand the temperature of hot ashes. A companion set usually consists of a selection of tools for managing the fire and fireplace, such as a shovel, poker, log roller and a set of tongs which are also made of pewter, brass or other material able to withstand heat. The set usually comes with a stand so it all looks attractively decorative at the fireside.
Other equipment you may find handy along side your fire bellows include coal scuttles or buckets or a log basket if your fire is wood fuelled. A fire guard is very important as it is not only cosmetic but also a safety feature, particularly if there are children or pets in the house. Very young children may need the precaution of a nursery guard that extends further from the fire for added protection.