Buckley Rumford Fireplaces

(Berkeley Rules at bottom of page)

Subject: We Finally Gave Up At 10 Hillcrest Court
To: Jim Buckley
From: Esler.Eric@EPA.GOV
Date: Thu, 1 May 2008

Hi Jim-

I've been meaning to e-mail you for some time now to let you know that we finally gave up on trying to get approval to install a 36" Rumford in our house. Instead, we're going with the 48" Rumford which was approved as part of the original building permit approval. The installation (by Michael Canterbury) of the firebox and above should begin early next week. Thank you for all your help in trying to find a way to gain approval for the 36" version, and best of luck in the on-going ASTM standards setting process.

Best, Eric.

Eric A. Esler
Direct Dial: (415) 972-3947
Fax: (415) 947-3570/71


Hi Jim -

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Regarding your question of what Berkeley considers a failure, it is the 36" Rumford's open-door test. As I wrote to you in an e-mail last March, my architect in 2005 "requested advance approval for construction of a 36" Rumford fireplace for one of his clients and was told that the City interprets EPA's regulations (40 CFR 60.531) to require compliance with a 7.5 grams/hour emissions level for both open and close-door tests independently (i.e., not on an averaged basis) because a fireplace may be operated with either an open or closed door. As the 36" model's open-door test exceeded the EPA standard of 7.5 grams/hour Berkeley therefore does not consider the 36" model compliant with the EPA regs.

So I think the only hopes are to retest the 36" fireplace with the Washington State fueling protocol (on the assumption that it will perform like the 30" and 48" fireplaces); await development and approval of an ASTM standard for fireplaces and subsequent testing; or try to persuade the City that it, like other jurisdictions (according to you), allow averaging of the closed-door and open-door tests. Unfortunately, I don't think that any of these options are really viable: you indicate in your message that you are not going to test the fireplaces again until establishment of the ASTM standard; the ASTM standard may be years away from creation, longer than we can wait; and Berkeley is unlikely to agree to allow averaging despite what other jurisdictions do.

Just for my information, however, do you know the status of the ASTM standard development?

Thanks, Eric.

Eric A. Esler
Assistant Regional Counsel
U.S. EPA, Region IX*



Thanks for that explanation. To answer your direct question, I think the ASTM standard will be in place within a year and that sooner than that we may know what the fueling protocols and passing grades will be so may do more testing of all our Rumfords.

In reaction to your explanation of Berkeley's position below I have the following comments:

1) None of our competition even tests their fireplaces in the open position yet all of them might be burned open just as ours could be.

2) The one open door test that was not within the standard was due to the lab trying to follow the Northern Sonoma draft fueling protocol that based the fuel load on the area of the hearth. A Rumford fireplace is a big fireplace with a small hearth and we argued that the fuel load should be based on the volume of the firebox. The Washington and Colorado rules and the new ASTM rules will all base the fuel load on volume. To prove my point, I paid for an extra test in which the fuel was based on firebox volume and, when we were allowed to build a cheery typical fire that most of our customers would build, that test was the cleanest of all at 2.4 g/kg as reported at http://www.rumford.com/testRumfordresults.html

3) Washington and Colorado as well as the new ASTM rules and the EPA stove rules do average the individual test results for their published overall result.

I would urge Berkeley to reconsider their policy on averaging, consider that we might not have even reported our open door test, like our competition, and that the "failing" test was an exception based on a flawed fueling protocol and is balanced by a very good result after the fireplace was tested with a more reasonable fueling protocol.

While I think it would be fair to allow the 36" Rumford based on the results posted at http://www.rumford.com/testRumfordresults.html I feel confident that within a year we will test again to the new ASTM standards.

Jim Buckley



I do remember the email exchange and, no, we have not done any more testing yet and probably won't until the new ASTM standards have been set.

But "failed"? I'm not aware that any of the tests on Rumfords performed by OMNI failed. Maybe it's just a matter of interpretation and we can get OMNI to explain to Berkeley. For example:

1) Our test results should be averaged just as the EPA stove tests are averaged. The average of several stove tests must be under the 7.5 g/hr but any individual test (typically the fastest burn rate) can be as high as 23 g/hr. That doesn't mean the 23/g/hr test "failed". If you take the grams per kilogram test results reported at http://www.rumford.com/testRumfordresults.html only the open door test of the 36" Rumford was higher than the 7.3 g/kg accepted by Washington, Colorado and other areas as being equivalent to the 7.5 g/hr stove "rate" standard but averaging that result with the closed door test results in a passing grade.

2) We were the only fireplace to test without doors. We could, like everyone else, test only with closed doors, which I think is a little slight of hand unless all those customers always use their fireplaces with the doors closed, but fair is fair.

3) If Berkeley insists on the stove 7.5 g/hr "rate" then we can report our results that way as we do for Truckee at http://www.rumford.com/testRumfordresultsgh.html where you can see that only our 30" and 48" Rumfords with closed doors passed. The "rate" is, by the way, unfair to any large fireplace or stove or masonry heater with a high burn rate. Our 48" Rumford burns about four times as much wood per hour as a typical EPA certified stove (and puts out about four times as much heat too) so it has to be four times as clean in order to meet the grams per hour emission rate. That's why in the last ten years Colorado, Washington, Northern Sonoma County and soon the ASTM standard are all expressed in the more fair and less manipulatable grams or particulate emissions per kilogram of fuel burned.

Remind me again what Berkeley considers failure and lets see if we can explain it to them.

Best, Jim Buckley


Hi Jim-

You may recall that earlier this year we corresponded about my interest in using a 36" fireplace and the City of Berkeley, California's rejection of my request on the grounds that the 36" fireplace doesn't meet EPA's woodstove standard because one of two Omni tests failed. I'm wondering if there have been any developments in developing a fireplace standard or otherwise that would be of help to me in battling Berkeley.

Thanks, Eric.

P.S. We ran into some problems with our project and so have been delayed.

Eric A. Esler
Assistant Regional Counsel
U.S. EPA, Region IX


Berkeley Rules from http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/bmc/berkeley%5Fmunicipal%5Fcode/title%5F19/28/230.html

Section 19.28.230 Wood-burning appliances.

B.    Wood-Burning Appliances     CBC 3101A.

C.   The purpose of this section is to reduce the health risks caused by wood smoke under the climatic conditions applicable to Berkeley.

D.    For purposes of this section the following terms shall be defined as set forth below.

    1.    “EPA” means the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
    2.    “EPA Certified” means any wood heater that is labeled “EPA Certified” in accordance with the standards in Title 40, Part 60, Subpart AAA, of the Code of Federal Regulations in effect at the time the wood heater is installed.
    3.    “Pellet heater” means wood heaters that burn pellet fuel exclusively and are either EPA-certified or exempted under EPA requirements set forth in Part 60, Title 40, Subpart AAA, of the Code of Federal Regulations, February 26, 1988.
    4.    “Wood-burning” means that an appliance burns wood or any wood-based solid fuel, including but not limited to wood pellets.
    5.    “Wood-burning cooking device” means any wood-burning device that is designed or primarily used for cooking.
    6.    “Wood-burning fireplace” means any permanently-installed masonry or factory-built wood-burning appliance, either open or with doors in front of the combustion chamber, which is neither a wood heater as defined in 40 CFR 60.531 nor designed and used for cooking.

C. No wood-burning fireplace or wood heater as defined in 40 CFR 60.531, that is not EPA certified may be installed in any occupancy.

    Exception: Existing masonry fireplaces may be repaired in accordance with the applicable codes in effect at the time of the proposed repair or reconstruction. For purposes of this exception, the term repair includes resurfacing the combustion chamber, but does not include replacing any other part of the combustion chamber.

D. No wood-burning cooking device may be installed in any occupancy unless it is equipped with an abatement device that adequately controls particulate emissions and is permitted by the San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), prior to issuance of the permit by the City of Berkeley for installation of such appliances.

E. Pellet heaters are not prohibited by this section.

F. Any person planning to install a wood-burning fireplace, oven or stove must submit verifiable documentation to the City showing that the appliance conforms to the requirements of this section. (Ord. 6727-NS § 1, 2003)

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