Save Gas Logs!

EPR.TNAThe US Department of Energy proposed a Rule on Feb. 9, 2015, that would prohibit standing pilots on all "Hearth Products", including Gas Logs, five years after final adoption of the Rule. A Public Meeting will be held on Monday, March 23, 2015, at DOE in Washington, DC. Public comments are due by April 10, 2015. Further scrutiny for energy savings would occur every five years, no doubt resulting in further removal of consumer choices and alteration of the appearance and marketability of Hearth Products. Rulemaking of hearth products first started in 2010 with rules, based on egregiously inadequate research and erroneous assumptions about gas logs and their markets, that would have severely altered and restricted the types of gas log sets that could be sold. The Hearth Industry spent over $2.7 million in legal fees to beat the DOE in the DC Court of Appeals. However, on Dec. 31, 2013, DOE started a new rulemaking process that resulted in the Feb. 10 Rule.

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Rasmussen Submits Comments to DOE- 5/11/15

Rasmussen submitted the following comments to DOE (download PDF): Comments submitted by others may be viewed here.

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Rasmussen Testifies at DOE Public Meeting

  On March 23, 2015, during a Public Meeting at DOE’s facility in Washington, D.C., Rett Rasmussen, President of Rasmussen Gas Logs & Grills, provided comments in opposition to the DOE’s Proposed Rulemaking against gas hearth products. Read Rett’s comments. Rett also provided a great deal of input during the day-long meeting. You may read […]

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2/9/15 – DOE Proposes Standing Pilot Ban

On February 9, 2015, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) that would abolish standing pilots on all indoor and outdoor Hearth Products five years from the date of final adoption of the Rule. Comments must be submitted to DOE by April 10, 2015. A […]

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1/28/15 – DOE Releases a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Hearth Products

Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a pre-publication version of their Proposed Rulemaking for Hearth Product Standards. Here also is the email notice DOE sent out earlier today. Please note that the public meeting DOE scheduled is for March 4th, during the national trade show for the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association. Yep, that’s […]

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Rasmussen Submits Comments to DOE- 5/11/15

Rasmussen submitted the following comments to DOE (download PDF):

Comments submitted by others may be viewed here.

Rasmussen Testifies at DOE Public Meeting

 

On March 23, 2015, during a Public Meeting at DOE’s facility in Washington, D.C., Rett Rasmussen, President of Rasmussen Gas Logs & Grills, provided comments in opposition to the DOE’s Proposed Rulemaking against gas hearth products. Read Rett’s comments.

Rett also provided a great deal of input during the day-long meeting. You may read the transcript of the meeting.

2/9/15 – DOE Proposes Standing Pilot Ban

On February 9, 2015, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) that would abolish standing pilots on all indoor and outdoor Hearth Products five years from the date of final adoption of the Rule. Comments must be submitted to DOE by April 10, 2015. A public meeting to discuss the Rule will be held on Monday, March 23, 2015, from 9am to 4pm at U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 8E-089, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585. Information on participating in this meeting, either in person or via the webinar, is provided in the notice.  (Note: the Federal Register incorrectly identifies March 23 as a Wednesday).

Proposed Rule

Technical Support Document (TSD)

Sign the Petition to Save Gas Logs

Manual Standing Pilot Control Systems provide the lowest cost safety shutdown of gas flow to the main burner in the event of an interruption in the gas supply or a flameout. Standing Pilots are also used in Millivolt Controls that allow for remote operation by switches, wireless remote controls and home automation systems. Both systems would be forbidden by the Rule. In a time of high production and supplies of Natural Gas, the DOE has proposed to regulate Hearth Products under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA). After this initial regulation, DOE would be required by EPCA to revisit every five years means for improving energy conservation for Hearth Products. This could result further design restrictions and/or efficiency requirements that would likely negatively affect the aesthetics and market appeal of Hearth Products.

Barring any new technologies or changes in the requirements by DOE, the following control options would be available for gas log sets:

Natural Gas Vented = Match lighted (no safety shutdown) and Electronic Ignition (Safety Shutdown)
Propane Vented, Natural Gas Vent-free, Propane Vent-Free = Electronic Ignition (Safety Shutdown)

Please note that control systems for gas log sets must usually reside inside of the fireplace; they normally cannot be located outside of the fireplace except during new construction or an extensive remodel. Accordingly, Electronic Ignition Systems (EIS) must be battery powered (outlets are not located inside a fireplace). Unfortunately, the control manufacturers currently make no battery-powered EIS with sufficient gas capacity for set sizes larger than 30-inch. This Rule will severely restrict consumer choice for larger fireplaces.

The term “Hearth Products” is broadly defined as “a gas-fired appliance that simulates a solid-fueled fireplace or presents a flame pattern (for aesthetics or other purpose) and that may provide space heating directly to the space in which it is installed.” Breaking down this language, this Rule would apply to anything with a flame; DOE has previously stated that any flame provides heat, therefore any appliance with a flame is a heater. Accordingly, this Rule could apply to every indoor and outdoor product in the hearth products industry, including patio heaters, gas lights and, perhaps, gas grills. While some of these products may not be affected now by a standing pilot ban, being included in the Final Rule will subject them to future regulation. This is not good for the industry or consumer choice.

We fear that this Rule and subsequent regulations would have unintended consequences, such as:
1) Increased pollution from increased wood burning;
2) Health and safety issues by consumers who try to bypass the restrictions by creating their own control systems, or using Propane products with no safety shutdown systems.
3) Increases in product costs while decreasing consumer choices.
4) Reductions in sales that would result in companies going out of business and large job losses in the hearth industry.

We urge you to:
1) Attend the Public Meeting on March 23, 2015 in Washington, DC, to let your opinions be known;
2) Submit comments to DOE by April 10, 2015. Include how this would affect your business with respect to revenue loss and reduction of employees (job killer), as well as reducing consumer choice and safety options. Provide these same comments to your congressman and Senators;
3) Sign the Petition;
4) Encourage all of your hearth products manufacturers to join HPBA.
5) Purchase products from manufacturer members of the HPBA, as they are footing the legal and lobbying bills for opposing this overreach by government. We need increased revenue to cover these costs, which are projected to be $500,000 from Jan. 1 through July 31, 2015. Those who are not members of HPBA are “free riding” on the efforts and financial commitments of those who are, and should not be rewarded for their lack of action.
6) Make your customers aware of the impact of this Rule on their choices in order to enlist their support through signing the Petition and submitting comments to DOE.

1/28/15 – DOE Releases a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Hearth Products

Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a pre-publication version of their Proposed Rulemaking for Hearth Product Standards. Here also is the email notice DOE sent out earlier today. Please note that the public meeting DOE scheduled is for March 4th, during the national trade show for the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association. Yep, that’s right – smack dab in the middle of show week! HPBA will ask them to change the date – hopefully DOE will cooperate.

The main requirement of this Rule is to “disallow the use of continuously-burning pilots (i.e., “standing pilots” or “constant burning
pilots”) in hearth products.” This would be a major change for gas log sets, as it is estimated that over 50% of gas log sets are sold with standing pilot safety control systems.

DOE has not established a final definition for “hearth products” yet, but the have stated that a “hearth product is a gas-fired appliance that simulates a solid-fueled fireplace or presents a flame pattern”,
which includes vented decorative hearth products, vented heater hearth products, vented gas logs, gas stoves, outdoor hearth products, and vent-less hearth products. DOE desires to cast the widest net possible with their regulation.

The proposed rule, if adopted, would apply to all hearth products that are manufactured in, or imported into, the United States on and after the date 5 years after the publication of the final rule for this rulemaking.

Stay tuned for more information after we have had time to read and digest this 199 page document. On page 189, DOE states the 23 “Issues on Which DOE Seeks Comment.”

 

Another Threat – NFPA 211 – Comments Due 11/14/14

The National Fire Protection Association develops consensus codes and standards to reduce fire and other hazards. NFPA 211 is the Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances and is currently under revision for its 2016 edition. There are six revisions that severely threaten gas logs, as well as other after-market parts and components, such as glass doors, screens, grates, blowers, log lighters, spark arrestors, chimney caps and decorative shrouds.

The comment period ends at 5PM EST on Friday, November 14, 2014. We highly encourage all manufacturers, dealers, installers and users of hearth products to provide revisions and comments to the language by the deadline.

The process to submit your comments is not very straightforward, but please try the following. I’ve tried to streamline the process:

1)   Go to http://www.nfpa.org/ and sign in, or register an account. You must have an account to submit comments.

2)   Helpful videos are at http://www.nfpa.org/submitcomment

3)   Go to http://bit.ly/1ACyIEM to get to the NFPA 211 “home” page.

4)   There are six sections in need of comment:

  1. 3.3.2.1
  2. 3.3.2.2
  3. 11.1.5
  4. 11.2.10
  5. 14.7.1.1
  6. 14.7.1.2

5)   In order for the NFPA 211 committee to consider your comments, you must enter proposed changes to the section text. You can enter this text into the first window in the NFPA system.  After making changes, click “Next”.

  1. Once you review your changes, you will then have an opportunity to upload any other supporting documentation on the next screen.  If none, click “Next”
  2. The “Statement of Problem and Substantiation” page is where you enter your reasoning for the proposed text changes (required). After entering, then click “Next”.
  3. The next screen is entitled “Related Public Comments and Related Items …”  Click on “Add Related Item” , then select “First Revision”, then enter the  number corresponding to the section on which you are commenting:

3.3.2.1 = 6

3.3.2.2 = 5

11.1.5 = 11

11.2.10 = 12

14.7.1.1 = 3

14.7.1.2 = 13

Then click “Add Related Item”

Then click “Next”

6)    Submitter Information Verification.
Complete your name, email address and company name, then click “Next”

7)    Copyright Assignment and Signature
Check the box, then click “Submit”

8)    In the upper right corner of the comment box, it should show a green “Submitted.” If it is a red “Not Submitted”, click on “edit”, then click on all of the subsequent “Next” buttons, ensuring that the information is complete (sometimes it takes repeating this submitting of the information.

9)    Repeat for each section.

 

Below are Rasmussen’s submissions. Please make your submission original (in your own words, especially regarding the impact on your business).

 

3.3.2.1*   Factory-Built Fireplace System Accessories.

Accessories intended for field installation into or attachment to factory-built fireplace systems. This definition does not include Vented Gas Log Decorative Appliances and Vent-free Gas Log Heaters.

Statement of Problem and Substantiation for Public Comment:

The biggest issue with this and other NFPA 211-2014 changes is that they are “solutions” in search of a problem. Factory-Built fireplaces, designed, tested and listed to UL127, are designed to a very high heat standard so as to be safe for burning wood, which is an uncontrolled, albeit contained, fire, with wide swings in intensity during the life of a fire (kindling, building the fire to be roaring, dying down, restoking to a roar, process repeated many times). Both Vented Decorative Gas Logs and Vent-Free Gas Log Heaters are controllable fires burned at much, much less intensity than wood fires. This has led to the hearth industry’s rule of thumb “if it is safe to burn wood, it is safe to burn a gas log.” Accordingly, any restrictions on gas burning appliances used inside of woodburning fireplaces are unnecessary, overly restrictive and restraints to commerce and business.

Rasmussen Iron Works, Inc. has been a manufacturer of gas log sets since 1958. We have never, ever been sued for a fire caused by our gas log sets. In today’s litigious society, we would be named in a lawsuit of any fire surrounding a fireplace, regardless of the cause, and this has never happened. Again, NFPA 211-2014 is a poor, dangerous solution for which no problem exists.

[Comments by Tom Stroud, HPBA]

3.3.2.2*   Masonry Fireplace and Chimney Accessories.

Accessories intended for field installation into or attachment to masonry fireplaces or chimneys. This definition does not include Vented Gas Log Decorative Appliances and Vent-free Gas Log Heaters.

Statement of Problem and Substantiation for Public Comment:

The biggest issue with this and other NFPA 211-2014 changes is that they are “solutions” in search of a problem. Masonry fireplaces, are made of non-combustible materials and are designed to a very high heat standard so as to be safe for burning wood, which is an uncontrolled, albeit contained, fire, with wide swings in intensity during the life of a fire (kindling, building the fire to be roaring, dying down, restoking to a roar, process repeated many times). Both Vented Decorative Gas Logs and Vent-Free Gas Log Heaters are controllable fires burned at much, much less intensity than wood fires. This has led to the hearth industry’s rule of thumb “if it is safe to burn wood, it is safe to burn a gas log.” Accordingly, any restrictions on gas burning appliances used inside of woodburning fireplaces are unnecessary, overly restrictive and restraints to commerce and business.

Rasmussen Iron Works, Inc. has been a manufacturer of gas log sets since 1958. We have never, ever been sued for a fire caused by our gas log sets. In today’s litigious society, we would be named in a lawsuit of any fire surrounding a fireplace, regardless of the cause, and this has never happened. Again, NFPA 211-2014 is a poor, dangerous solution for which no problem exists.

[Comments by Tom Stroud, HPBA]

11.1.5

Factory-built fireplace system accessories shall be one of the following:

  1. Listed for use with the specific factory-built fireplace and installed in accordance with the terms of their listing
  2. Acceptable to the AHJ and installed as approved and in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions

[Section Deleted]

Statement of Problem and Substantiation for Public Comment:

This proposal is a “solution” in search of a problem, and will result in increasing the chance of fires, not preventing them, while seriously threatening the viability of all fireplace accessory manufacturers and the dealers and service people who sell, install and service them. Requiring fireplace accessories to be listed with specific factory-built fireplaces is problematic for the following reasons:

1) Unnecessary. Rasmussen Iron Works, Inc. has been a manufacturer of gas log sets since 1958. We have never, ever been sued for a fire caused by our gas log sets or a fire in which our products were installed, but other accessories were deemed to be the cause. In today’s litigious society, we would most certainly be named in a lawsuit of any fire surrounding a fireplace, regardless of the cause, and this has never, ever happened. If a chimney cap, damper mechanism, glass door or other accessory was the cause of a fire, Rasmussen would most certainly be named in the lawsuit if our gas log set was also installed, but this has never, ever occurred. Again, NFPA 211-2014 is a poor, dangerous solution for which no problem exists.

2) Financially untenable and impossible. There are too many fireplaces and accessory combinations to accomplish such a monumentally unnecessary undertaking to test and list ALL accessories with ALL fireplaces by ALL manufacturers.

a) Impossible to accomplish for fireplaces whose manufacturer is no longer in business (there are a lot of fireplace manufacturers who no longer exist).

3) Restraint of trade and commerce. This section will have the effect of delegitimizing products with decades of perfect safety track records and consumer enjoyment. It will threaten the viability of manufacturers, dealers, installers and service people. I expect litigation to be filed to block this section should it be enacted.

4) Effectively condemns all fireplaces in need of repair or any part replacement. Will lead to ignorant, untrained homeowners making repairs themselves to save the expensive and unnecessary cost of replacing the whole fireplace. This is fraught with DIY danger and undesired consequences.

[Comments by Tom Stroud, HPBA]

11.2.10*   Masonry Fireplace Accessories.

Fireplace accessories shall be one of the following:

  1. Listed and installed in accordance with the terms of their listing.
  2. Acceptable to and installed by an Experience Hearth Technician or Installer in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the accessory.
  3. Acceptable to the AHJ and installed as approved and in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions

Statement of Problem and Substantiation for Public Comment:

1) Most fireplace accessories are not listed products, but the absence of a listing does not make them unsafe, just unlisted.

2) Most AHJs probably are not expert or even familiar with fireplaces and their accessories.

3) Many people are experienced in the installation of fireplace accessories. Not all are certified. For example, I am 54 years old and have been designing gas log sets for the past 27 years and installing them since I was 14 years old. I do not hold any type of Certified Hearth Technician credentials, but I am very, very experienced in all aspects of gas logs and would be a prudent choice for installing a gas log set. Same applies for many hearth dealers and installers, who have made a business decision, base on time, financial resources or lack of local need, to not earn or maintain such certifications. Such experience must not be discounted or prohibited.

[Comments by Tom Stroud, HPBA]

14.7.1.1

Only listed or approved components and accessories tested for use with the specific model of factory-built chimney shall be permitted.

[Section Deleted]

Statement of Problem and Substantiation for Public Comment:

This proposal is a “solution” in search of a problem, and will result in increasing the chance of fires, not preventing them, while seriously threatening the viability of all fireplace accessory manufacturers and the dealers and service people who sell, install and service them. Requiring fireplace accessories to be listed with specific factory-built fireplaces is problematic for the following reasons:

1) Unnecessary. Rasmussen Iron Works, Inc. has been a manufacturer of gas log sets since 1958. We have never, ever been sued for a fire caused by our gas log sets or a fire in which our products were installed, but other accessories were deemed to be the cause. In today’s litigious society, we would most certainly be named in a lawsuit of any fire surrounding a fireplace, regardless of the cause, and this has never, ever happened. If a chimney cap, damper mechanism, glass door or other accessory was the cause of a fire, Rasmussen would most certainly be named in the lawsuit if our gas log set was also installed, but this has never, ever occurred. Again, NFPA 211-2014 is a poor, dangerous solution for which no problem exists.

2) Financially untenable and impossible. There are too many fireplaces and accessory combinations to accomplish such a monumentally unnecessary undertaking to test and list ALL accessories with ALL fireplaces by ALL manufacturers.

a) Impossible to accomplish for fireplaces whose manufacturer is no longer in business (there are a lot of fireplace manufacturers who no longer exist).

3) Restraint of trade and commerce. This section will have the effect of delegitimizing products with decades of perfect safety track records and consumer enjoyment. It will threaten the viability of manufacturers, dealers, installers and service people. I expect litigation to be filed to block this section should it be enacted.

4) Effectively condemns all fireplaces in need of repair or any part replacement. Will lead to ignorant, untrained homeowners making repairs themselves to save the expensive and unnecessary cost of replacing the whole fireplace. This is fraught with DIY danger and undesired consequences.

[Comments by Tom Stroud, HPBA]

14.7.1.2

Only listed or approved components or accessories for use with the specific model of factory-built fireplace system shall be permitted.

[Section Deleted]

Statement of Problem and Substantiation for Public Comment:

This proposal is a “solution” in search of a problem, and will result in increasing the chance of fires, not preventing them, while seriously threatening the viability of all fireplace accessory manufacturers and the dealers and service people who sell, install and service them. Requiring fireplace accessories to be listed with specific factory-built fireplaces is problematic for the following reasons:

1) Unnecessary. Rasmussen Iron Works, Inc. has been a manufacturer of gas log sets since 1958. We have never, ever been sued for a fire caused by our gas log sets or a fire in which our products were installed, but other accessories were deemed to be the cause. In today’s litigious society, we would most certainly be named in a lawsuit of any fire surrounding a fireplace, regardless of the cause, and this has never, ever happened. If a chimney cap, damper mechanism, glass door or other accessory was the cause of a fire, Rasmussen would most certainly be named in the lawsuit if our gas log set was also installed, but this has never, ever occurred. Again, NFPA 211-2014 is a poor, dangerous solution for which no problem exists.

2) Financially untenable and impossible. There are too many fireplaces and accessory combinations to accomplish such a monumentally unnecessary undertaking to test and list ALL accessories with ALL fireplaces by ALL manufacturers.

a) Impossible to accomplish for fireplaces whose manufacturer is no longer in business (there are a lot of fireplace manufacturers who no longer exist).

3) Restraint of trade and commerce. This section will have the effect of delegitimizing products with decades of perfect safety track records and consumer enjoyment. It will threaten the viability of manufacturers, dealers, installers and service people. I expect litigation to be filed to block this section should it be enacted.

4) Effectively condemns all fireplaces in need of repair or any part replacement. Will lead to ignorant, untrained homeowners making repairs themselves to save the expensive and unnecessary cost of replacing the whole fireplace. This is fraught with DIY danger and undesired consequences.

[Comments by Tom Stroud, HPBA]

Sign the Petition

Background

How did we get here? What is the basis for the US Department of Energy's assault on gas logs? Here is the background information ...

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The Threat

The US Department of Energy Proposed Rule would harm the market for gas logs, and severely limit consumer choice ...

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Action

We're fighting for the survival of vented gas logs against the US Government, and we need all the help we can get. Here is what you can do to help save gas logs ...

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Fallacy of ‘”Decorative” 9000 BTU

900 btu

With the stroke of a pen, the US Department of Energy declared that (as of July 1, 2011), a gas log set must not consume more that 9000 BTU/hour to be termed "decorative". If it consumes more gas than that, it must meet efficiency ratings for which no testing methodogy exists. Watch this video where Rett Rasmussen illustrates the fallacy of 9000 BTU/Hour being "decorative."

Watch Video