Until fairly recently, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits were not targets for regulatory efforts. However, now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is attempting to include all gas hearth products under its newly proposed rules, including outdoor products such as fire pits, fireplaces, patio heaters and maybe even gas grills, according to the HPBA. The DOE’s Dec. 31, 2013, Proposed Determination of Hearth Products as Covered Consumer Products seeks to cover all gas-fired hearth appliances, anything with an exposed flame.
There is now no published timetable for the next steps in this rulemaking, but the HPBA expects it during the first quarter of 2015, followed by a 60-day public comment period. The HPBA’s associate director of Government Affairs, Ryan Carroll, expects the new DOE rulemaking “perhaps by mid-2015.”
Outdoor Fireplace Approvals
Some fireplace manufacturers have tested and listed indoor fireplaces for outdoor use. The safety standards used are the CSA Requirement 4.96 U.S. for Outdoor Gas Fireplaces, UL 2312 Standard for Power Outlets and ANSI Z21.88 Gas Fireplace Heaters. Each fireplace manufacturer has its own specifications, but this listing requires that the fireplace be installed in an outdoor area protected from direct water impingement.
In addition to maintaining listed mantel and combustible clearances, a rain protection overhang factor of 0.5 (i.e. 0.5 feet of overhang for every 1.0 foot of roofline elevation above the hearth) must be constructed to the front and to each side of the installed appliance. In addition, all wiring connections to line power shall be in accordance with outdoor requirements NECA BFPA 70.
Fire Pit and Fire Table Approvals
Most gas outdoor fire features, such as fire pits and fire tables, are tested and listed to ANSI Z21.97 or CSA 2.41 for Outdoor Decorative Gas Appliances. There are no testing standards specifically for wood-burning fire pits.
– By Bill Sendelback