Before using the fireplace, first make sure the flue is open. Visually inspect the flue pipe with a good flashlight looking for soot build up. Consider having the chimney and flue inspected by a qualified firm. Soot build up in the flue can ignite causing a fire to spread to the attic or roof/ceiling space. Cracks in mortar between bricks can enable heat to transfer directly to wood structural members.
Lastly, properly dispose of old fireplace ashes. Never assume that this material is cold and don't dump the ash material directly into your garbage can. Many severe home fires start because of this mistake.
Statistically, more home fires occur during the cold months. The fireplace and chimney flue along with improperly discarded fireplace ashes start many fires that severely damage or destroy homes.