Why is it important to control use of electric space heaters in commercial settings?

May 10, 2023

by Nils Deacon, Manager, Inspections and Rating Services

According to the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) there are approximately 1,700 fires caused by portable space heaters each year, resulting in about 80 deaths.

Though the heating season is coming to an end in many areas of the country, electric space heater use is still ongoing. In various occupancies, unpredictable temperatures in a building can lead to the use of space heaters as supplemental heat.

Electric portable space heaters are allowed by the NFPA 1 Fire Code. However, specific requirements remain for safe use. These include direct plug into a wall outlet (not a power strip), at least 36’’ from combustibles, UL or other agency listed, not easily overturned, and shut off at the end of the day.

The AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) can prohibit use of space heaters in circumstances that could endanger life or property. This would include being plugged into power strips, clutter, and previous issues with their use.

DISCLAIMER: This information reflects the interpretation of MSO, Inc. with regard to NFPA Standards and Codes. It does not represent NFPA’s official position on the items discussed.

Unsafe practices that would call for prohibition of the electric space heater and power strips.