The discussion might heat up at the city council work session at 7:30 tonight over a proposed ordinance banning all exterior furnaces in the city.
The proposed legislation states that outdoor solid fuel furnaces and outdoor wood boilers "constitute a hazard to the health and well being of the citizens of Norwalk, Ohio, due to the smoke, particulates, gases and other emissions."
"It's bad government," said Mike Hemenway, owner of A-1 Sewer & Drain, which sells outdoor furnaces. "Instead of looking at the facts they're just taking the easy way and banning them. I sell an outside corn furnace that doesn't smoke at all."
Hemenway said he knows of several homes in the city that use outdoor furnaces as the main heat source. He suggested that council consider regulating the use of outdoor furnaces rather than banning them altogether.
"It's the same smoke that goes out the chimney if you were burning wood in the fireplace," said Charlie Fisher, who sells outdoor furnaces through his business, Hillside Wood Heat. He said he didn't usually advise people to install them in towns because of the close proximity of houses, but he does sell them to city residents who request them.
Hemenway said the Web site ourdoorfurnacefact.com gives reliable information that council should look at before voting on the proposed ordinance. It contains a page with suggested regulations municipalities can consider regarding outdoor furnaces.
Council member Bob Carleton said he has researched the issue since receiving a copy of the proposed ordinance last week. "I have some serious issues with it," he said. "For a lot of people, that's the only way they can afford to heat their homes with the price of fuel oil and propane."
Council will hold a special session to consider joining in an ODOT project to pave U.S. 20, then consider the ordinance banning exterior furnaces and other legislation in a work session. LAW GUIDELINES
For communities considering related legislation, the following requirements have been recommended by Central Boiler, a company that manufactures outdoor wood furnaces:
1. Consider developing a permitting process for new installations of outdoor wood burning 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.
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 burning furnace. Burning of any and all other materials is prohibited. 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.
6. Outdoor wood burning furnaces should fall under reasonable setback requirements.
From the front lot line no closer than the house
From the side and rear lot lines 25 feet
From another residence not being served by the furnace on adjacent properties 100 feet recommended in Best Burn Practices.
7. 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.
8. A process for enforcement and appeals should be established. Regulations should not contain biased statements. Regulations should state fact, not opinion.