Information on “Fire Glass”

Every so often, products or ideas come out that seem great, but can cause injuries and property damage if not done properly.

The Kent Fire Department RFA has received several inquiries about fire glass and whether it is safe and non-toxic.

Fire glass is tempered glass that has been tumbled to make it into pebble sized pieces with no sharp edges. The small pieces are added to propane or natural gas fireplaces as a decorative bed under the existing “logs” or in place of them where the gas and flames come up through the glass bed. The reflective glass adds a very warm feeling to a fireplace and can be found in virtually any color desired. It is used both indoors and out.

According to the Kent Fire Department RFA’s fire investigators, they have never found fire glass to be the cause or a contributing factor in a house fire. In fact, one investigator has fire glass in his home and has never had any issues with it.

Because it is simply colored glass, there does not appear to be any issues with toxicity.

So are there any potential dangers with fire glass? Of course. Like any fire related product there is a potential danger – especially when people use it without sufficient knowledge or background.

While there is not much information available, the main issues appear to be:
• Choking hazard – The small colored glass pieces can be attractive and a potential choking hazard for kids.
• Incorrect design/installation – An unsafe design or installation is a recipe for disaster when it comes to fire.
• Wrong type of glass – Not all glass is created equally. Using the incorrect type of glass can cause popping as the glass reacts to the heat potentially causing small, hot pieces of glass to land on people and combustibles.
• Utilizing fire glass in a fireplace not designed for it – Whether your fireplace is designed for or can support the use of fire glass is something only the manufacturer or a professional can tell you. Incorrect use of fire glass can damage your fireplace and potentially lead to a house fire.

What steps can you take to ensure you have a well-designed and safe fire glass fixture?
• Always use a professional to design and install a fireplace using fire glass.
• Check with the manufacturer or a professional before modifying an existing fireplace to include fire glass.
• Keep in mind that the glass spreads heat and may be hotter than a typical gas fireplace over a larger area.
• If you have young children of your own or have children in your house on occasion, decide whether fire glass will create a potential risk.

The Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority does not endorse or support any particular product or manufacturer.

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