Fireplace Safety

To Screen or Not To Screen: That Is The Question.

Fireplace safety has increased in importance recently.  Unfortunately, there have been too many incidents of children hands touching hot glass – and as such – new regulations are apparently currently in the works.  Some manufacturers have been proactive and have made screens standard on their fireplaces.  Some others, offer screens as an option.  However, even the fireplaces that come standard with screens provide the consumer with the option to remove them.

Unfortunately, although we try and recommend adding a screen to a fireplace installation when appropriate, most of our customers prefer the direct view of the fire.  Some screens are quite nice – whereas others, well, not so nice.  This is definitely a challenge for our industry.


This past weekend I was working on my oven in my kitchen.  I noticed that the outside glass panel had slid down slightly so I took the door apart.  I was surprised to see that once I did – there were in fact 3 sheets of glass.  Maybe this is common knowledge, but I had no idea.

Fireplace Safety Proposal

Oven Door Safety Glass

The relevance?  Why can’t fireplaces have 2 or 3 sheets of glass?  This would allow the outside glass to be cool to the tough, while allowing for the blower system to circulate the air.

3 sheets of glass is not as nice as 1 – however – some customers would probably prefer this to a screen.

There must be a reason why it has not been done yet in our industry – but I can’t think of it.

If you have a current fireplace – please consider putting a safety screen in front of it. The risk of not doing it can be significant.

Year End Review

Year end has arrived and its always great to take some time to reflect on the past 12 months and plan for the year ahead. From a business standpoint, Friendly Fires had another successful year. Thank you. It is great to be successful in such a challenging environment. We really have the best customers in the world!

As for my personal achievements, 2012 was a good year. Based on suggestions from some great productivity books I posted my 2012 personal goals on my office wall and I’m pleased to see that many were achieved this year. It was really neat to be able to review on paper my 2012 goals and update them for next year. The main one that continues to allude me: getting in shape (but 2013 WILL be the year!).

Looking ahead to 2013 – I often do some financial planning. It has been tough these past few years with the low returns being offered by financial institutions. It was not long ago that a ‘guaranteed 2% return’ would have been laughed at by consumers.

Well, I’m doing something different with my families finances this year. We are installing solar panels on our roof. The Ontario Government is offering a guaranteed 10%+ return on your investment for 20 years – so we are taking advantage of it. The catch? You must live in Ontario and it requires the installation of solar panels on your roof. For a 10% return – we are doing it. This is going to be our guaranteed RRSP!

To summarize, if you are looking for a guaranteed financial return that pays almost 10 times more than a government bond and is guaranteed by the same organization (Ontario Government) – check out solar. As with all financial products, there is a limited time however – the government could change the program at any time (as they have done in the past).

As for goal setting….

If you are trying to achieve some personal goals, put them on paper and post them on a wall. By doing this – many experts agree you’ll be more likely to achieve them in 2013. It worked for me (except the exercise one – but 2013 will be different now that I have posted this goal online!).

Best of success to you and your family in 2013.

2012 Goals

Holiday Spirit

As per our last post, giving back to the community is an important part of the Friendly Fires culture.  We want to ensure that our team members who go above and beyond in giving back are properly recognized for their efforts.  For the holidays, our very own Jason Lichter organizes a fundraising effort to raise money that he then purchases new soccer and sports equipment.  This equipment is then donated to a chosen toy drive.

We are so pleased of our great team and their efforts in giving back to the community – great work Jason!


Charitable Success Story

An important part of the Friendly Fires culture is to give back to the community.  This week, we were recognized as the official winner of the workplace challenge of the Loving Spoonful / GAR.  Loving Spoonful is a charitable organization in Kingston that collects

healthy food for those who can not necessarily afford it.  What is great about this award is that one of our team members – Josh – was the person who did most of the work.  We simply provided some land for Josh – and he made some incredible gardens in our yard and has been cultivating them ever since.  Its great to give back, and its great that our team gives back as well.  Our success depends on our community – so it we feel it is important to give back.  More importantly however, Josh deserves some great kudos for taking it upon himself to work for such a great cause.  If you come into our store and feel that growing healthy food for those who may not be able to afford it is a good cause – could you let Josh know?

Great work Josh!

Why don’t IPI Fireplaces Work Properly?

IPI – the technical term used in the fireplace industry for ‘Intermitent Pilot Ignition’ (also called electronic ignition) is supposed to benefit end users with additional features and functionality – namely – lower fuel bills (as you can turn the pilot light off with a click of the remote) and additional functionality (because the flame on the fireplace can modulate). Some governments (see British Columbia) are forcing manufacturers to only sell IPI units.

However – these IPI units have caused us more service challenges than any other types of fireplaces. Our service calls have quadrupled on IPI units. At first we thought it was the manufacturers we were using – so we switched. But now, they are all more problematic than traditional standing pilot. Unfortunately for consumers, almost all new gas / propane fireplaces are being released as ‘IPI.’ No one really knows why they are more problematic… but our opinion is the following: 1) They rely on a proper power source (a common challenge in certain homes); 2) Replacing batteries is a challenge or unknown for many fireplace customers (especially in the hidden receiver part); and 3) Having electronic components so near to heat is … well… not good.

Therefore – if you are looking for a fireplace that will not have service issues, consider a traditional ‘standing pilot’ fireplace. If you prefer some of the features of newer IPI systems, that is fine, but you should be prepared for some minor frustrations at some point. The good news – is that if you purchased from us, we are here to support you. However, our technicians can be booked for 2-3 weeks during peak season so there is a risk in having a fireplace that is not working for a few days.

Please feel free to comment!

Friendly Fires Logo Debate

As you view this website, you may (or may not) be noticing the different logos and looks that Friendly Fires is currently using. Essentially, there is our original ‘waving flame’ logo – still present on a few of our old signage (copy is in this post).  In 2004, we updated to our ‘happy house’ look.  Then, when we merged with Renewable Energy of Plum Hollow – we had their logo as well.  Now, in 2012, we have our new look that is on this website.  Sheesh – that is a lot of logos.  How come not all our marketing material has been updated?  Well, to be honest, it is a question of time – energy – money. We have been updating our logos / looks as the marketing materials have required replacing. In always trying to keep our expenses to a minimum, we have a hard time spending money on cosmetic items.

Marketing Confusion? Definitely. Are we working towards a common brand? Yes. Does it make for an interesting blog post?

You be the judge….