Stopping Food-on-the-Stove Fires with a Team Approach

By:  Fire Chief (Ret.) Stan Tarnowski

Today I’m going to share some additional support information that will help you get HEHLT into your community to start eradicating food-on-the-stove (FOS) fires.  (You can catch up on the previous installments of this blog series on FOS fires using these links: Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV).

Previously, I’ve presented information, case studies, and the actual fire prevention ordinance that was approved by the city leadership in Union City, Georgia.  That information addressed three of the “5-E’s of Fire Prevention”:  Education, Engineering, and Enforcement.

Here is some information that will help you to have a positive influence on the stakeholders in your community for one more of the “5-E’s”:  Working to incorporate financial incentives for developers and builders that support risk reduction such as tax incentives for installation of HEHLT in residential properties (Economic Incentives).

Those stakeholders include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) leaders in local government; local developers and builders; and local residents.

Many developers and builders may not be aware that they can obtain up to 5 DCA Websitepoints—as part of their Development Design Criteria—when they include HEHLT on the electric ranges for their project.  Developers can qualify for Tax Credits via the Department of Community Affairs & Office of Affordable Housing when they achieve a minimum of 100 points in enhanced amenities.  Those amenities can include energy saving equipment, energy use reduction, and fire safety equipment for each occupied residence that meets the DCA criteria.

The State of Georgia in 2011 set aside over $21 million dollars in tax credits for developers that met the mandate for building projects in low income housing, assisted living complexes, seniors living, etc.  (Source: Ref: Department of Community Affairs-Office of Affordable Housing. QAP).

Creating a Winning Team

Apartment ConstructionThe first opportunity for the fire department to introduce the use of HEHLT is when a builder/developer submits their application for a building permit.  If the organization has not yet adopted their fire prevention ordinance—requiring the use of HEHLT in housing units—they can at least have the information pertaining to the QAP and Department of Community Affairs relating to Tax Credits and how the HEHLT will add up to 5 points to their submittal for the tax credit design criteria.


If the city or county has already adopted their Ordinance, then it will already have been part of the application process for the developers to meet before they can receive their permit to build.  A secondary review can be made when they submit their plans for review which will ultimately be reviewed by building/zoning and fire department before recommendations are given to the city or county manager. This is really a “fail safe” method to make sure that HEHLT is “on the table” before the project begins.  (I would even reach out and say that when developers are requesting building permits for private residences that they also be advised of HEHLT).

I have found it to be a good practice, one that I strongly encourage, for fire department leadership todevelop a close working relationship with their Building and Zoning counterparts.  Doing so enables both parties to share historical and empirical data relating to the HEHLT and its ability to prevent the FOS fire.  When everyone who has a hand in approving the project has all the data needed, you’ll be well on your way eliminating the FOS fire from unattended cooking.  The fire that never starts never needs a fire department response.  What else can I say?

Extra Information You Can Use to Promote HEHLT

Fire service professionals with a passion for fire and injury prevention are usually curious about testing data and results when comparing and making a case for the adoption of new

technology.  Below is an abridged summary of oil ignition temperature testing as well as the reduction of energy required when using HEHLT.

Testing Protocols: Oil Ignition Temperatures & Energy Consumption Comparisons

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Test 1:  Three elements used:  open coil type element, ceramic cook top element, and coil with HEHLT installed.  For the test 500 ml of Soya cooking oil was placed in a 10” cooking pot and set the element to high for one hour or when the oil reached flashpoint whichever was first. Below are the results:

1)      Coil Element: 330 Watts/hr:  Oil ignited in 8 minutes 36 seconds.

2)      Ceramic Coil: 371 Watts/hr: Oil ignited in 13 minutes 26 seconds

3)      Coil Element with HEHLT installed: 245.7 Watts/hr: No ignition during the 1 hour testing. No fire.

It is an obvious choice from where I sit:  using HEHLT can achieve these results because of the regulation of the high end heat. If you don’t have the required heat to ignite the oil—698 degrees F—then there won’t be a fire to begin with.

Testing Protocols: Energy Consumption Comparisons for 3 Elements:  

Third-party testing was conducted on conventional ceramic elements, open coil cook top elements and coil with HEHLT installed.  A 9” x ¼” steel plate (simulating a frying pan) was used for the energy consumption testing placing the burners on the “high heat” setting for 1 hour.

Results of the energy consumption comparison are listed below:

1)      Open Coil Element:  2,294.2 K/h used in 60 minutes on high.

2)      Ceramic Element: 1242.6 K/h used in 60 minutes on high.

3)      Coil Element with HEHLT:  472.2 K/h used in 60 minutes on high.


The electric coil element with the HEHLT installed to it indicated an energy reduction of 79% compared to the Open Coil Element, a 62% reduction compared to the Ceramic stove top Element.  The electric coil element with the HEHLT used a total of 472.2 K/h over a 1 hour period of time with the burner on “high heat”. Electricians from houston electric company can help to fix any kind of home energy issues so you can also contact them to avail any kind of service related to electricity.

Benefits provided when using HEHLT:

Prevention of FOS FiresSafe-T-1

Both of these tests again prove that when using High End Heat Limiting Technology (HEHLT), the results are extremely impressive. In the first test; we saw that when comparing the HEHLT element to two conventional elements placing oil in a 10” pot with the heat on High for 1 hour, that the only Pot that DID NOT ignite into flames was the element that had the HEHLT installed. The other two, ceramic and open coil elements allowed the oil to ignite in 13 minutes 26 seconds, and 8 minutes 36 seconds.  This is a clear indication that if we want to achieve our objective of preventing the FOS fire, then we will need to have the HEHLT in place. Resident managers see this as a doable and supportive initiative in saving lives and property at their facilities.

Energy Reduction Benefits:

In the energy consumption comparison, again we see that when the HEHLT is installed on the element, a copious amount of energy is saved. Resident managers see this as a windfall of such, since these results indicate that even if the burners are left on high to cook, they will not exceed the 662F which uses up to 79% less energy in comparison. They also know that their electricity bills will be reduced during the cold months when tenants are apt to keep their stove top burners on for long periods to help heat their living spaces. Thousands of dollars in savings can be expected when the HEHLT is in place.

Bottom line:  When the high end heat is regulated to a manageable level, then FOS fires are prevented and overall energy use is dramatically reduced.  Another case example of how HEHLT can help your organization.


My new e-Book, Putting a “Lid” on Food-on-the-Stove Fires, is available on-line and thank you to all who have grabbed your copy so far!

About the Author

Fire Chief (Ret.) Stan Tarnowski is the President of FIRESAFE Consulting Group.  Previously, Chief Tarnowski held key leadership positions in the State of Georgia with Henry County Fire Department, the Georgia Fire Academy, and the Union City Fire Department.


Translation:  As of the effective date of this ordinance (September 18, 2012) all electric coil cooking devices purchased for the purpose of replacement in existing apartment buildings, nursing homes, tax supported housing, or facilities used for residential board and care occupancy or purchased as standard equipment in new apartment buildings, nursing homes, tax-supported housing, or facilities used for residential board and care occupancy shall be equipped with listed and approved high end heat limiting technology.

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec makes his home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, [email protected].