Chiminea… Decorative Accessory or Fire Hazard?

M.C. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can you have a 20 inch fire bowl or chiminea on your porch? I have noticed several of my neighbors have them and I am concerned that this is creating a fire hazard for me and the rest of the condo.

Mister Condo replies:

M.C., fire bowls, chimineas, grills, propane heaters and many other accessories have caused (pardon my pun) “heated” debates at condominiums for years. Many condos have a ban on any device that uses fire or combustion to produce heat in common areas. Further, many municipalities have specific rules about these devices as well. For instance, in my town, gas and coal grills are not allowed on decks so residents here who wish to grill their foods outdoors have purchased electric grills.

You will need to check two places to get your answer. The first place to look is your condominium documents which may or may not spell out what types of appliances can be used on decks and porches. If your documents prohibit the use of chimineas or fire bowls, you could report the offenders to the Board or Property Manager so corrective action can be taken. If your documents don’t address these types of appliances, you could contact your City or Town Hall to inquire if there are rules or ordinances about them. If both are silent on the subject it could be inferred that they are allowed.

If you are still concerned about fire safety, you might want to review this expert article written by Simon Davies. You’ll find it online at http://ezinearticles.com/?Chiminea-Safety—What-You-Need-to-Know&id=3773205. I would recommend that you print a copy and send it off to your Board for their consideration in banning these potentially dangerous appliances in your condominium. At the very least, they should consider the safety factors and impact to the association’s insurance policy if one were to ever cause a fire or a severe burn to a resident or guest.

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