Open your damper. If necessary, shine a flashlight up inside your fireplace to make sure the damper is fully open.
Clear the area around the fireplace opening. Remove any combustible material including your firewood away from the front of the fireplace.
Place your fire grate as far back in the fireplace as possible. This reduces the possibility of a smoking problem and the heated back wall reflects more heat into the room.
Warm up the flue. Light one end of a rolled up newspaper and hold it in the damper area for about 10-15 seconds to help establish a good draft in the chimney.
Arrange 2 small pieces of firewood on the fire grate with some tinder between the logs.
Cover the tinder with a generous amount of kindling wood.
Place 1 to 2 more small pieces of firewood on top of the kindling, and two more at right angles with an air space in between for air circulation. Light the tinder and enjoy your fire!
Don't use charcoal lighter fluid or other flammable liquids. These are extremely dangerous. (Gel fire starters are okay)
Don't use coal in a wood stove or fireplace unless there are specific written instructions - it will burn, but not safely.
Don't burn artificial logs in a wood stove, unless they are specifically designed for wood stove use. Artificial logs can dirty the chimney much faster than regular wood, and can be hazardous in certain situations.
Don't burn treated lumber, trash, or anything other than wood in your fireplace or wood stove.