April 14, 2022 – Determined Ontarians won’t let a chilly spring evening keep them confined to indoor socializing. On the contrary, a mug of hot cocoa on a moonlit patio could very well set the scene for a romantic first date on a brisk spring night.
As families and friends flock to backyard and restaurant patios to celebrate the arrival of spring, Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) is teaming up with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association (OMFPOA), Canadian Propane Association (CPA), and Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) to raise awareness of patio heater safety practices. Knowing how to use patio heaters and open-flame appliances properly helps keep outdoor gatherers safe from the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Know the risks
The risks of fire and CO poisoning aren’t limited to indoor areas. CO is produced by all devices that burn fuel, like patio heaters, and deadly CO gas can accumulate in any environment with limited air movement.
It is important to ensure that areas where patio heaters are located are well ventilated and verify that smoke and CO alarms located inside nearby shelters and buildings are working properly.
Patio heaters, both portable and fixed, and open-flame units are designed for outdoor use only in open areas away from combustible materials. If used inside a tent or other enclosure or near flammable tablecloths or paper products, outdoor heating devices pose serious safety risks.
Fixed fuel-fired appliances, including fire pits, fireplaces and tabletop units, present additional fire hazards caused by open flames. These units must be installed by a TSSA-certified technician.
Heating device safety rules of thumb
When using patio heaters to make outdoor gatherings more enjoyable, keep these safety rules of top of mind.
It is important to note that this equipment should not simply be pulled out of storage and turned on each year, without being properly inspected and maintained as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Ultimately, owners and operators of outdoor patios and dining areas are responsible for the safe installation, operation, and maintenance of their patio heating units. They must abide by all safety and maintenance instructions outlined in the operating manual for their heating appliances and ensure they understand how to safely operate the heating units and properly handle propane cylinders.
Informational resources on the safe use of outdoor heating devices and propane cylinders, including Patio Heater Safety Guidelines and a Patio Heater Safety Checklist for Restaurant Owners and Operators, are available for download at www.tssa.org.
“While fire has associated telltale warning signs, CO is known as The Silent Killer because it is undetectable by smell, sight and taste. In fact, CO is a leading cause of accidental poisonings in Ontario. As such, it is of the utmost importance the patio heaters are situated in well ventilated areas, and CO alarms are installed close by and in good functioning condition.”
Director, Fuels Safety, Technical Standards and Safety Authority
“Outdoor heating equipment is a great way to enjoy the fresh air – just make sure it’s air you’re breathing and not carbon monoxide from the fuel-burning appliance. All fuel-burning appliances produce a colourless, odorless, tasteless gas called carbon monoxide, which can be deadly to living creatures. When using heating equipment, make sure you follow all of the manufacturer’s directions and only use them in properly ventilated locations.”
Deputy Chief Rob Grimwood
President, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs
“Outdoor heating devices are great tools that provide temporary warmth when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Improperly used devices can lead to the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. When using these devices, ensure that they are kept away from combustible materials and used in well-ventilated areas.”
President, Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association
“Propane is a safe, affordable and green energy source – perfect for the patio! Knowing how to use patio heaters and open flame appliances safely will help everyone enjoy outdoor gatherings all season long!”
Sr. Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs and Safety, Canadian Propane Association
“It is exciting to see Ontario’s many restaurant outdoor patios start opening, creating vibrancy across the many communities. It is vital to follow the proper maintenance and operating standards of patio heaters to ensure these operate safely and are placed in the appropriate locations. Safety supports great patio experiences for all to enjoy.”
President & CEO, Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association
About the Technical Standards and Safety Authority
Throughout Ontario, TSSA enforces provincial safety regulations and enhances public safety. TSSA regulates the safety of amusement devices, boilers and pressure vessels, elevating devices, fuels, operating engineers, and ski lifts. Its range of safety services includes public education, certification, licensing and registration, engineering design review, inspections, investigations, safety management consultation, compliance support, enforcement and prosecution activities. For more information, visit www.tssa.org.
About the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs
The OAFC represents more than 700 chief fire officers in Ontario, from across 441 municipalities, who are responsible for the management and delivery of fire, rescue, and emergency response to the province’s 14.5 million residents. Its mission is to lead innovation and excellence in public and life safety by inspiring and influencing a safer Ontario. For more information, visit www.oafc.on.ca.
About the Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association
The OMFPOA is an independent, non-profit organization representing approximately 200 fire departments across Ontario. For more information, visit www.omfpoa.com.
About the Canadian Propane Association
The CPA represents over 400 companies in every region of the country and promotes a culture of safe propane handling and use of propane-fueled equipment. For more information, visit www.propane.ca.
About the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association
The Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association is the largest provincial hospitality association in Canada. With over 4,000 members, representing more than 11,000 establishments across the province, the ORHMA is dedicated to fostering a positive business climate for Ontario's hospitality industry. For more information, visit www.orhma.com.
For more information, please contact:
Vice President, Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Technical Standards and Safety Authority
Telephone: 416-734-6227 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Program and Policy Analyst
Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs
Telephone: 905-426-9865 x1228 | Email: Mark.Tishman@oafc.on.ca
Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association
Telephone: 905- 227-6412 | Email: Vince.Giovannini@thorold.ca
Senior Director, Communications and Marketing
Canadian Propane Association
Telephone: 587-777-3917 | Email: TammyHirsch@propane.ca
Director of Corporate Marketing & Business Development
Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association
Telephone: 905-361-0268 | Email: email@example.com