Paint/stain fireplace trim

I manage a duplex for my sister. In one of the units there is a small fireplace (very basic-small size-mainly uses presto logs). To make the fireplace look nice there is a wood framework around the fireplace. The wood is very basic(probably fir) and has never had any finish applied to it. It is quite dried out and very dull looking. The wood sections look like they are about 1/2 inch thick and about 2 inches wide(they go in various diagonal directions to create a rather nice pattern). Obviously there are many possibilities of finishes and/or paint available. What concerns/etc do I need to be aware of in terms of any possible fire danger based on what I might apply to the wood. Also what treatments do you feel would be most attractive and durable. The duplex is a basic type unit(nothing fancy at all)
Thanks for your assistance,
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