Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
Mill Valley
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Mill Valley has approved our three "Certified Rumford" sizes - the 30", 36" and the 48".

Mill Valley Rules at http://www.cityofmillvalley.org/municode-title14.pdf



I got your welcome news about Mike Barnett approving our 36" Rumford in Mill Valley. Thank you. I will let Scott (the architect in SF) know although maybe you already did.


Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006
Subject: Re: Mill Valley Fireplace Ordinance
From: Emily Hughes
To: Jim Buckley
CC: , , Michael Keller

Thank you so much for your email, Jim. Michael Keller and I had a fairly promising meeting with reps from the Mill Valley Planning Department this morning. Although the ordinance is not clear on the topic, the City will allow gas logs. One concern we have about installing gas logs is the size of the flue. If we follow all the specs of one of the three certified Rumford's, will the gas log system work temporarily? I have been told that a flue is smaller for gas logs.

The City reps were very interested in your conversation with Marin County. Although the Mill Valley ordinance seems more restrictive than the County ordinance, they said that they intentionally followed the Marin County language. One question from the City reps is how many Bay Area counties and cities have allowed Rumford fireplaces? Did the counties/cities make per fireplace exemptions or was the ordinance language changed?

On another note, we were told that their is a former Mill Valley City Council Member who is very interested in changing the ordinance so that wood burning fireplaces would continue to be allowed in historic homes. It sounds like we might have an ally. Our home has already been designated as historically significant and that designation applies to all three fireplaces.

I would be happy to send you pictures. The house is a construction mess right now but I will see if I can take some good close ups. All our pictures to date are from a distance. Is there someone else in Marin County (besides Blair Foster) that you would suggest that I talk to about converting our fireplaces to Rumford's? Blair seems knowledgeable but it sounds like you have some questions about his assessment.

Thank you again for all your assistance.



    I was consolidating the information I know about approval of Rumford fireplaces in Mill Valley and I came across your email of 7/27/06 that I don't think I answered. Maybe it's water over the dam now that, in large part to your efforts, Mike Barnett, the Mill Valley City Plan Inspector. has approved our three "Certified Rumford" sizes. But, for the record, I want to reply to your very good questions:

    Gas flues: By the National Fuel Gas Code, gas logs may be installed only in code-compliant solid fuel-burning fireplaces. The gas logs alone are not tested nor listed and son rely on the code compliance of the fireplace. That means the flue has to be sized according to code - generally one tenth of the fireplace opening area. If the flue is smaller the fireplace may not draw. Sometime regulators think by requiring a small flue will prevent the easy conversion to wood-burning but they have no basis upon which to assume a smaller flue will draw all the product of combustion. They may not understand that the flue size is based on long-standing experience and has to be as large as it is because of the dilution air flowing into an open fireplace - not just sized off some chart based on the BTU output of the gas logs. if the fireplace doesn't draw the house could be filled with carbon monoxide and, since it would be against the National Fuel Gas Code, I think the city would be liable.

    Other Bay Area Cities: I don't really know how many allow our Rumfords nor why. The issue is thick with politics and many of our customers seem to get approved through the back door. See http://www.rumford.com/emissions/index.htm for what we know about the various jurisdictions.

    Historic exceptions: Very interesting about the former Mill Valley City Council Member who wants to change the ordinance so that wood burning fireplaces would continue to be allowed in historic homes. I've seen that in a number of ordinances, most recently in the San Francisco "Ordinance No 13-02" dated 12/13/01.

    And I love to see pictures of your fireplace.

    Jim Buckley


Emily Hughes
225 Eldridge Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 389-8031

From: Jim Buckley
To: Emily Hughes
Cc: angelo@mcnear.com ; howard@mcnear.com
Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 11:43 AM
Subject: Re: Mill Valley Fireplace Ordinance


You raise a lot of issues and I'm sorry that I just missed talking with you when I called Mike Keller's office this morning. I have copied a couple of people at McNear Brick, Howard Lasker and Angelo Gonzales, who have been involved in these issues.

So, here goes ....

1) Can you send me pictures of your fireplaces so I know what you are talking about and can better understand your mason's recommendations?

2) Thanks for the Mill Valley rules. They appear to be as rigid as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's model ordinance over which we sued San Jose and Palo Alto. The key issue for us is this language:

    14.40.040 General Requirements. It shall be unlawful in the City of Mill Valley to: .....

    B. Install a wood-burning appliance that is not one of the following: .....

    (3) a fireplace certified by the EPA if the EPA adopts a fireplace certification program.

We think that holding fireplaces to a non-existent rule ("if the EPA adopts a fireplace certification program") is tantamount to banning fireplaces, even if fireplaces might be cleaner than the appliances they do approve, is arbitrary and capricious. And we'd be glad explore that further with the Mill Valley regulators.

Our Rumford fireplace have been tested by an EPA certified test lab and shown, in tests appropriate for fireplaces, to meet the emissions standards the EPA sets for woodstoves. See our California Certified Rumford Manual at http://www.rumford.com/manualca.html and especially the test results at http://www.rumford.com/testRumfordresults.html

Let's first decide if we can help you make your fireplaces functional without damage to their historical value and see if we can get them approved based on the paragraph below, also from the rules you sent me:

QUALIFIED HISTORICAL BUILDING: Any structure or building deemed of importance to the history, architecture, or culture of an area by an appropriate local, State or Federal governmental jurisdiction. This shall include designated structures on official existing or future national, state or local historical registers or official inventories, such as the National Register of Historic Places, State Historical Landmarks, State Points of Historical Interest, and parcels to which the City has applied the Historic Overlay Zoning District.

If your house and fireplaces are not or cannot be locally designated historically important enough, then lets apply for a permit to rebuild your fireplaces using our "Certified Rumfords" if that fits with your restoration plans.

Finally, if all else fails, let's see if they will allow you to install gas logs in your fireplace rebuilt as a Rumford. You seemed to distinguish between rebuilding the fireplace and installing gas logs. Keep in mind that gas logs must only be installed in fireplaces that meet code for wood-burning and that gas logs in a Rumford are cleaner-burning and more efficient for the same reasons burning wood in a Rumford is cleaner and more efficient. The gas log option, for you, might be if one of our certified sizes doesn't fit your restoration plans, we can probably build a Rumford that would (and be just as clean and efficient) but it wouldn't be "certified" since we only tested three sizes.

I look forward to seeing your pictures and helping you to get the permits you need toe restore your fireplaces.

Jim Buckley

Hello Jim,

I apologize for not sending you the following link to the City of Mill Valley fireplace ordinance sooner. The City's website was down for several days and I thought email would be easier.


I met with Blair Foster yesterday who is a mason and has installed Rumford fireplaces in Marin County. He said that two out of three of the fireplaces would be good candidates. The only masonry change to the two would be to straighten the back wall which is currently curved. The third would have to be rebuilt to accommodate a Rumford so a gas line might make the most sense (unless we win the lottery)! Blair also said that converting the fireplaces to accommodate an EPA certified appliance would significantly change the look of the fireplaces and would erase the historical significance of the exterior design.

Any information you could send about your successful lobbying of Marin and Sonoma counties and Bay Area cities would be greatly appreciated. The Mill Valley code seems fairly strict but I am hoping that the historical significance of the house and the Rumford design might sway planning and building to allow us to keep the fireplaces.

Thank you!

Emily Hughes
225 Eldridge Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 389-8031

Also contact:

Steve Geiszler
Geiszler Architects
415. 409. 7000

Fireplace Emissions
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