Decorative Gas Appliances Find A Way To Approval

By Frank Fortino

We’ve written previously about the trend towards finished outdoor spaces in new construction. As tower after tower appears across the City, we’re seeing more demand for outdoor spaces – gardens, terraces, seating areas. Making these spaces intimate requires the addition of fixtures, and a preference among designers is to include decorative gas appliance. However, in the eyes of the Building Code, this was a non-starter. Until now.

Several months ago the DOB circulated a draft of their proposed regulations, and recently they published the final version. What’s interesting is how they established acceptance criteria – by treating outdoor decorative appliances as an “Alternative Material.”

The new regulations, outlined in Buildings Bulletin 2015-016 recognize a difference between decorative gas appliances, and more powerful gas appliances that generate substantial heat. These appliances, designated in ANSI Z21.97-2012 fall outside the scope of this new criteria. The approved appliances do not incorporate a venting system, and are used solely for aesthetics.

There are three parts to the proposed regulations and acceptance – design, installation, and special inspection. From a design view, the appliances must be designed in accordance with the NYC Construction Code, including Fuel Gas Code and the Fire Code. Appliances need to be thoughtfully designed in order to protect the public from accidental burning. They must be placed at least 5 feet from any building or combustible structure, and they need an emergency shut off valve.

Installation will require an FDNY permit, and must be performed by a licensed master plumber according to the manufacturers specs. Fire extinguishers must be installed nearby, and all furniture placed within 5 feet of the fire shall comply with the California Bureau of Home Furnishings Technical Bulletin 133.

The last piece is Special Inspection. Inspectors will ensure that the appliances meet the same qualifications for Mechanical Systems – RCNY 101-06 Appendix A. Inspectors will confirm the appliance has 2 layers of protective glass, as well as a working shut off valve. On the TR1 form, the Special Inspector must check “Alternative Materials – OTCR Buildings Bulletin 2015-016”

A final review will ensure that all appliances are labeled correctly – this means a certificate or label accompanies all shipments, certifying that the materials are those tested and approved.

As expected, the final version of the Bulletin resembles the draft, and from our perspective seems very workable. With summer’s already upon us, we can expect to start seeing more and more gas appliances lighting up our decks.