Fireplace maintenance is very important not only for safety, but to keep your fireplace in its best working order to provide heat for your home. If there is a problem with the flue then smoke may not be able to make its way up the chimney and the smoke may enter your home creating dust, fire and possible noxious fumes. It is important to look at the manufacturers guidelines for the best service package and safety recommendations.
Employing a chimney sweep, using cleaning logs and using carbon monoxide detectors in your home is always beneficial. For a woodstove it is important that the ashes are cleaned out frequently (and disposed in a non combustible container like a metal garbage can) and for a gas fireplace it is imperative to keep it from flammable dust.
It is always worth having a safety professional look at the installation of your fireplace before lighting it for the first time; especially if you installed it yourself. There may be problems with the chimney, a blockage somewhere, or if you have a gas fireplace there may be a leakage area. Fireplace safety is not to be taken lightly and fireplace maintenance is key.