**Fireplace safety rules to change thanks to Canadian pediatrician **
January 23, 2012
Lesley Ciarula Taylor
A relentless decade-long campaign by a Canadian pediatrician is about to change North American safety standards to protect children from scorching their skin on glass fireplace doors.
The North American industry group Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association](http://www.hpba.org/) on Tuesday will meet with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission](http://www.cpsc.gov/) about new rules to make screens in gas-fired glass front fireplaces mandatory.
At least 2,000 small children have suffered serious burns between 1999 and 2009 from touching the glass fronts of gas fireplaces, which can reach 200 C just 10 minutes after the fire is switched on and take 30 minutes to cool down.
Investigations, particularly by FairWarning.org](http://www.fairwarning.org/2011/01/hundreds-of-toddlers-are-burned-by-broiling-fireplace-glass-as-businesses-write-their-own-safety-rules/), have described toddler’s skin sticking and “melting” onto the white-hot glass doors.
Dr. Cynthia Verchere](http://www.surgery.ubc.ca/faculty/cverchere.html), a pediatric plastic surgeon who has led the campaign, has called the glass doors like “having your oven on with the door open in the middle of your living room.”
Verchere, who works at British Columbia Children’s Hospital](http://www.bcchildrens.ca/default.htm), said one to two dozen burn victims turn up in the emergency room each year.
“Each winter I see more than a dozen second and third degree fireplace burns, mostly on the hands and faces of toddlers,” she said. “These burns are incredibly painful, and can take months to years to heal with repeated medical visits, possible skin grafts, rehabilitation and potential loss of range of motion. In most cases the incident happens while adults are in the room supervising.”
“She spearheaded this,” HPBA spokeswoman Leslie Wheeler told the *Star *on Monday of Verchere.
Prodded by Verchere and HPBA’s Canadian branch, HPBA in the U.S. started a few years ago to include warning labels with all glass fronted gas fireplaces.
And prodded again by the Canadian Standards Association Working Group](http://www.hpba.org/government-affairs/major-projects/UpdateonGlassFrontFireplacesandHeaters_1ac.pdf), the HPBA has now put together industry-wide rules requiring fireplace glass doors to be shielded by a screen.
“It will get hot, yes, but it won’t cause burns,” Wheeler said of the screens.
Wheeler said the new rules for all North American manufacturers should be in place via the CSA and the American National Standards Institute by mid-2012 and will come with a fresh education campaign.
The HPBA changes started in 2007. Wheeler acknowledged some in the industry resisted mandatory screens in favour of warning labels. The CSA Technical Advisory Group, acting on the Working Group’s recommendations, declared in December they should be mandatory.
The industry is trying to stave off government rules via the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the HPBA’s Tom Stroud acknowledged.
While some fireplace manufacturers include screens now, “many of them do not.”
And some homeowners, she pointed out, don’t like the screens blocking the “pretty” view of the crackling fire.
CSA standards now tell consumers: “Always turn off the appliance when babies or young children are to be active in the area, or put up a permanent screen or gate if you use the fireplace as your main heat source in the home.”