Grand County, CO Approves Rumfords
On November 16, 1999, before a group of interested masons, homeowners and builders, the Grand County Commissioners approved Rumford fireplaces. Scott Benson represented the building regulation department. John Berendes, Bill Norr and several others attended the meeting.

Regular wood-burning fireplaces would not be allowed but the Commission agreed to amend its Resolution to permit Rumford fireplaces and other masonry fireplaces that meet the state air pollution standards. Attorney, Jack Dicola was asked to draft specific language and the motion passed unanimously.

Background Stuggle

On July 19, 1999, on behalf of John Berendes (Icebox Builders Inc.), I faxed a letter to Marvin Fischer in the Grand County Building & Sanitation Department asking that he approve our Rumford fireplaces.

Letter to Marvin Fischer 7/19/99

I Called Mr. Fischer on Tuesday, 7/27/99 to ask if he had received my fax. He said he had and that he had asked the state and got a reply from Gary Finiol that our Rumfords were not approved in Colorado.

Of course we knew that. We meet the Colorado emission performance standard but we were taken off the list after a competitor's complaint on a technical point because our Rumford fireplaces don't meet the definition of a masonry heater. Colorado has no category for fireplaces. See Colorado's Regulation #4 - to be or not to be a "masonry heater".

We had asked Mr. Fischer to approve us based on performance as documented by the OMNI test results and based on our Washington approval. He chose not to approve us because we are not on the Colorado list of approved stoves and masonry heaters. He said Gary Finiol said we were approved "by mistake". More disturbingly, he interpreted that, looking at our g/hr emission rate, to mean we were no cleaner than any fireplace, which, of course, is not the case.

What to do? I called our builder customer who suggested I call one of the Commissioners which lead to calling the County Manager, Lurline Curran, who told me there was a "Building Board of Appeals" and that I should ask Marvin Fischer for the proper forms for the appeal. So I did.

Letter to Marvin Fischer 7/27/99

Marvin Fischer called back on 7/28/99 to tell me his decision was "not appealable to Grand County" - that I would have to appeal to state.

I called County Manager, Lurline Curran, asking for clarification and got the names of the Grand County commissioners: Dwain Bailey, Robert Anderson and James Newberry.

Then I called Mike Silverstein who confirmed that fireplaces are only regulated in the Denver six county area. Grand County cannot use Reg 4 to prohibit a fireplace. "They must have their own ordinance" he said.

So I wrote back to Lurline Curran: Letter to Lurline Curran 8/20/99

On August 29th I received a letter from Marvin Fisher inviting me to a Grand County Commissioners meeting at 1:30pm Tuesday, September 14, 1999.

The results of the meeting were mixed. The Commissioners wanted to support Marvin Fischer and they did have a resolution they passed to approve only what the state approved. The County Attorney, Jack Dicola (970 725 3315), made the point that the county lacked the expertise to evaluate test results. At my suggestion, Jack wondered if we could get the state to write a letter saying essentially that while we don't approve fireplaces, this one passed a performance test showing it to meet the stove and/or masonry heater standards. In other words, perhaps the state could provide guidance and an evaluation service since they clearly helped create a problem by not having inclusive categories.

Does the County have an obligation to be fair? Maybe they should ban all wood-burning if they don't want to evaluate test results. Why can't they accept the Washington Fireplace Standard?

Altitude was raise as a factor. Marvin and Jack seemed to think performance at altitude would be different and said Heatalator did test at altitude.

In the end Marvin was pretty supportive and so was James and Dwain Bailey (I think). Robert Anderson (if he was the commissioner on our left) was not too supportive. Jack Dicola was also fairly supportive and looking for a fair solution.

Maybe I should talk with a Denver lawyer to help think through the legal issues and help with state politics. I imagine the state will not want to draft any letter nor take on any responsibility. Can they be made to feel some responsibility in helping out the county? Can I force the county to be fair to show the need for the state's support? Would the state or county just recognize the Washington test protocol?

Talked with Joshua Epel, Gablehouse & Epel, who suggested making a case for clean-burning fireplaces directly to the state Air Quality Control Commission. See letter and notes. Joshua and his partner Tim Gablehouse urged me to be patient. They didn't think I should send the letter I had prepared to Jack Dicola - just get the letter from Gary Finiol, if I could. Meanwhile, arm them with a "package" of data so they could see what they could do at the state level.

On 10/6/99 I asked Gary Finiol to write a letter to the Grand County Commissioners, stating the fact that the Rumfords met the emissions performance standard required by Reg. No. 4 for masonry heaters but the Rumfords are not on the masonry heater list only becasue they are not masonry heaters and don't meet the Reg 4 deffinition of a masonry heater. Gary was kind enough to write the letter.

Gary Finiol letter to the Grand County Commissioners

Letter to Marvin Fischer 10/15/99

On October 19th The Grand County Commision met again to consider approving Rumford fireplaces. John Berendes, builder, who attended the meeting, said the Commission essencially tabled the issue. John thought Marvin Fischer was opposed to wood-burning alltogether. Only two Commissioners attended the meeting and they and the attorney, Jack Dicola, would have approved the Rumford, John thought. The issue is not whether the Rumford is clean or not but does Grand County want to deal with fireplaces? Jack said it would be really easy to reword their rule. In the end they tabled it to think about it and will bring it up again Nov 16 at 10:30 am and ask me to be on call for a conference call.

That week an article about the Rumford approval issue was published on the front page of the Grand County real-estate newspaper.

On November 16th while I was in Juneau, I participated in a conference call with the Grand County Commissioners. In a word they approved the Rumfords. My notes (below) are a bit sketchy since I wasn't actually in attendance and I don't know some of the people there and couldn't always tell who was talking, but, such as they are.........

Grand County Conference Call Notes 11/16/99:

Marve Fischer could not attend but was represented by Scott Benson who will likely be the new Grand County code official when Marve retires. John Berendes, Bill Norr and several others (an architect, mason and home owner, I think) also attended the meeting.

Scott asked me to bring him "up to speed" which gave me the opportunity to introduce the subject (and problem) of approving Rumford fireplaces.

Marve Fischer was said to have felt that all woodburning should be eliminated in Grand County but actually the Commissions said it's goal should be to meet the state emission standards. There was discussion about Denver and Summit Counties and the difference between Rumfords and regular fireplaces. Regular wood-burning fireplaces would not be allowed but "certainly we should allow this fireplace" that meet the state standards.

After more discussion about wording, the Commission agreed to amend its Resolution to permit Rumfords and other masonry fireplaces that meet the state air pollution standards. Jack Dicola was asked to draft specific language and the motion passed unanimously.

The Commission then told those present that the process of drafting the new language would not slow up any current plans to build Rumfords.


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