Given the expected demands for fossil fuels (oil and gas) for the winter heating season, it is anticipated that many Massachusetts homeowners may seek to supplement the heating of their homes by using wood or other solid fuels One must take appropriate measures to ensure safe operation of these units.

In addition to the specific requirements for the solid fuel-burning appliance, the State Building Code (780 CMR) and the State Fire Code (527 CMR) have requirements for when and where smoke alarms and CO alarms are required. State law and the Fire Code have required CO detectors retro-fit installed by March 31, 2006 in most residential occupancies.

The information that follows is intended for those who are considering using solid fuel-burning equipment and fireplaces to heat/supplement heat their homes. While specific sections of the Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR) are identified for informational use only, this Fact Sheet should not be used as a substitute for all applicable requirements of the Building Code, Boiler Regulations, or the Appliance Manufacturer's installation, operation and maintenance requirements.

Please note that your local plumbing or builder inspector will need to make an inspection of the installation unit so be sure to contact these individuals if you have any questions about properly installing a solid fuel-burning appliance.

General Requirements

Solid fuel-burning appliances include: factory-built fireplaces, coal-burning appliances, wood stoves, wood pellet stoves, corn and nut shell-burning pellet stoves, wood-fired boilers and any other solid fuel-burning appliance intended to provide heat to a building or space within a building, as well as certain ancillary components such as factory-built chimneys, vent piping and certain specialized installation components for some products.

Solid fuel-burning appliances utilized within the dwelling must comply with 780 CMR 60, and shall be:

  • Listed as tested in accordance with National Safety Standards and labeled for the intended use.
  • Placed a safe and established distance from combustible materials such as wood, draperies, furniture, carpets, wood flooring, etc..
  • Properly vented to the outside of the building.
  • Installed and operated in accordance with all applicable Building Code requirements and those of the appliance manufacturer.
  • Inspected by building official to ensure compliance with the Building Code.
  • Constructed, if it is a wood-fired boiler , in accordance with the Massachusetts State Boiler Regulations 522 CMR. Essentially this means that the boiler must be built to A.S.M.E. requirements and that the boiler manufacturer is registered with the MA Board of Boiler Rules. It should be noted that many wood boilers are fabricated in Europe and are not built to A.S.M.E. requirements and thereby are not acceptable for use in MA.
  • Maintained in accordance with the appliance manufacturer's requirements.

For more information on this subject please follow this link Solid Fuel Burning Appliance FAQs