Spring has Sprung – Time to Fire Up Those Patio Heaters

Industry: Fuels - Propane

Category: Public Safety

Mar 25, 2021


Logos of TSSA and other associations

Springtime tips for the safe use of patio heaters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (March 25, 2021) – After hibernating all winter, Ontarians will soon be flocking together with friends and family on restaurant or backyard patios – masked, socially distanced and following regional public health guidelines, of course – to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Since the weather will still be cool for some time, people will be firing up patio heaters to stay cozy and warm while they socialize outdoors. With that in mind, the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) in partnership with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), the Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association (OMFPOA) and the Canadian Propane Association offer the following  springtime tips for the safe operation of patio heaters.

Additional information for the safe use of patio heaters and propane cylinders on commercial or backyard patios can be found in TSSA’s TSSA’s Patio Heater Safety Guidelines and TSSA’s Patio Heater Safety Checklist for Restaurant Owners and Operators available at www.tssa.org

 Tips for the Safe Use of Patio Heaters

  • Avoid the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning - Never use patio heaters indoors or in an enclosed area. If patio heaters are used in a shelter, be sure to follow the manufacturers’ instructions for required clearance from combustible materials including shelter walls and overhead covers. To provide adequate ventilation to avoid the hazard of carbon monoxide poisoning, the shelter must either[1]
Image table of the shelter guidlines
  • *[1] As per ANSI Z83.26/CSA 2.37
  • Recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning - Teach staff and family members to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (nausea, dizziness, headache).
  • Avoid fire hazards – Be sure to adhere to the manufacturers’ instructions for required clearances from combustible materials such as umbrellas, awnings, walls, tablecloths, paper products, decorations, etc. Don’t forget to locate easily accessible fire extinguishers in the patio area.
  • Position with care – Always place patio heaters on a stable surface. Make sure patio heaters do not obstruct doors, fire exits or firefighting equipment and are properly distanced from building air intakes.
  • Operate safely - Ensure anyone operating a patio heater understands how to disconnect and install propane cylinders, including how to check for leaks. See TSSA’s Patio Heater Safety Guidelines for instructions.
  • Keep an eye on them - Never leave patio heaters unattended and pay particular attention when children or intoxicated adults are in the vicinity.
  • Store propane cylinders safely – Never store propane cylinders indoors, in a garage, close to operational heaters or near smoking areas. Propane cylinders must be stored upright, outdoors, in an area protected against tampering, unauthorized movement, dropping or vehicle impact that could result in a leak or a fire.
  • Use care when transporting propane cylinders – Up to five 20-pound propane cylinders may be transported in a vehicle provided they are safely secured in an upright position in the passenger compartment with the windows open, secured in a trunk with the trunk lid propped open for ventilation, or secured in the ventilated box of a truck. Transportation of more than five 20-pound propane cylinders must be conducted according to Transport Canada Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations.


“It is important for anyone using patio heaters or open-flame, fuel-fired appliances to know how to operate them safety to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire. To ensure public safety, all fuel-fired heating units that serve the public must be installed by a TSSA-certified technician in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction manual.”

Sam Sadeghi

Director, Fuels Safety, Technical Standards and Safety Authority

“Everyone enjoys spending time outside, and supporting local businesses, especially during these unprecedented times. As we start to see more sunshine and warmer days, springtime weather can still be unpredictable, which is why it is important to put safety first. Fuel burning appliances produce carbon monoxide which is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America. They must be installed and maintained correctly.”

Fire Chief Mark MacDonald

President, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs

“You should never trade comfort or expediency for safety when it comes to outdoor heating devices. It is the responsibility of owners and operators of commercial patios and dining areas to ensure that any outdoor heating device is properly installed, maintained, and ventilated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.” 

Fire Chief Cynthia Ross Tustin

Director, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and member of the OAFC Fire Prevention and Public Education Committee

“It’s been a long, cold winter. As the weather warms up, if you will be operating a patio heater, please follow TSSA’s Patio Heater Safety Guidelines and stay safe.”

Gwen Lewis

President, Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association

“As Canadians start getting out and enjoying the weather again, propane patio heaters are a safe, low-emission and effective way to heat any space. For portable propane heaters, always follow the manufacturers’ instructions to ensure safe set up and use outdoors.”

Nathalie St-Pierre

President and CEO, Canadian Propane Association


 About TSSA

Throughout Ontario, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (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 (OAFC):

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. Our 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 Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association (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 (CPA)

The Canadian Propane Association (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.  





For more information, please contact:

Alexandra Campbell

Vice President, Communications and Stakeholder Relations

Technical Standards and Safety Authority

Telephone: 416-734-6227 | Email: media@tssa.org

Michelle O’Hara

Executive Director

Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs

Telephone: 905-441-7766 | Email: Michelle.Ohara@oafc.on.ca

Gwen Lewis


Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association

Telephone: 613-913-4287 | Email: Gwen.Lewis@ottawa.ca

Tammy Hirsch

Senior Director, Communications and Marketing

Canadian Propane Association

Telephone: 587-777-3917 | Email: Tammy.Hirsch@propane.ca