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Overview: Best Practice Local Ordinance Regarding Outdoor Wood Furnaces

This section and the Sample Best Practice Local Ordinance has been updated as of September 2011 to take into consideration developments in the EPA voluntary emission reduction Programs and to include Phase 2 emission levels.
Central Boiler supports strict and responsible regulations that prevent and/or correct outdoor wood furnace misuse to encourage cleaner burning wood furnaces and implementation of Best Burn Practices. Based on experience in other communities that have implemented legislation regarding outdoor wood furnaces, the following requirements should be considered when drafting an ordinance:
  1. Consider developing a permitting process for new installations of outdoor wood furnaces.

  2. An outdoor wood furnace shall be laboratory tested and listed to appropriate safety standards such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), CAN/CSA (Canada National Standard/Canadian Standards Association), or ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards or other appropriate safety standards.

  3. Consider having an owner submit a site plan to show where the unit will be located on the property. A site plan should be limited to showing the applicant’s own property.

  4. Outdoor wood furnaces shall be installed, operated and maintained per the manufacturer’s instructions.

  5. Only natural wood or the manufacturer's listed fuels may be burned in any outdoor wood furnace. Please remember that many outdoor furnaces also employ features that allow them to burn natural gas, liquid propane or fuel oil as backup and starters. Burning of any and all other materials is prohibited.

  6. Create a list of items that should never be burned such as: trash, plastics, gasoline, rubber, naphtha, household garbage, materials treated with petroleum products (particle board, railroad ties and pressure treated wood), leaves, paper products and cardboard.

  7. Outdoor wood burning furnaces should fall under reasonable setback requirements:
      a. From the front lot line – no closer than the house
      b. From the side and rear lot lines
      c. From another residence not being served by the furnace on adjacent properties

  8. Stack/Chimney height requirements:
      Non-Phase 2 Qualified: If located within 300 feet of any residence not served by the furnace, it is recommended that the stack be at least 2 feet higher than the peak of the roof of that residence.

      Phase 2 Qualified: If there is a residence not served by the furnace within 300 feet, the chimney must be two feet higher than the peak of the residence it serves. If there is a residence not served by the furnace within 100 feet, the chimney must be two feet higher than the peak of the residence served or not served, whichever is higher.

  9. A process for enforcement and appeals should be established.  
Regulations should not contain biased statements. Regulations should state fact, not opinion.
Regulations should be created taking into consideration that while outdoor wood furnaces are not currently regulated by EPA, EPA is currently revising the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to include outdoor wood furnace and other types of wood heating appliances by 2012/2013 based upon EPA’s schedule.
EPA established test guidelines under Phase 1 of the EPA Outdoor Wood-fired Hydronic Heater Program for the outdoor furnace industry on January 29, 2007 and the Phase 2 Program on October 23, 2008. Several States including Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York, and Indiana have established laws/regulations based upon the testing standards and emissions limits originally developed in the EPA voluntary emissions reduction programs. Testing Standards include EPA Test Method 28 WHH, ASTM E2618, and ASTM E2515.
There are many other unregulated wood burning appliances including 16 million fireplaces in use, approximately 8 million non-certified indoor wood stoves, and many more indoor wood furnaces, barrel stoves and other unregulated wood burning devices. Millions of homeowners have been allowed to use “conventional” wood heating technology without being forced to meet emission limits. Outdoor wood furnace owners must be granted the same equal treatment as owners of other types of unregulated wood heating appliances.
Ordinances similar to this Sample Best Practice Local Ordinance have been implemented in several communities throughout the United States.
For more information about how to establish outdoor furnace regulations, Contact Us at Outdoor Furnace Facts.

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