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Madison Fire Department
Committed to recruiting and retaining a qualified, diverse, inclusive and safe fire workforce.

Safety & Prevention

Kerosene Heater Safety Tips

Auxiliary home heating sources (kerosene heaters, electrical heaters, fireplaces and wood burning stoves) are used for a variety reasons, including attempts to save on regular heating fuel. The Madison Fire Department wants you to use special care when using any portable heating unit.

The Madison General Ordinance 30.03 specifies that such auxiliary heaters are for temporary use only during outages or during repairs to the main heating unit, and not as permanently supplements to your main heating unit.

The largest number of heating-related fires have been caused by kerosene heaters. In most cases the fault was with misuse or abuse of the heater rather than the device itself.

The Madison Fire Department strongly recommends that you do not use kerosene heaters for residential heating.

If you are planning to purchase or use a kerosene heater for other applications please follow these fire safety suggestions:
  • Purchase a unit featuring the Underwriters Laboratory (ul) listing.
  • Choose a model with an automatic safety switch that will shut off the unit if it were tipped over accidentally.
  • Look for special features such as:
    1. An automatic starter that will eliminate the need for matches.
    2. A fuel gauge that ensure you do not dangerously overfill the heater.
    3. A safety grill that can prevent accidental contact burns.
  • Use only crystal-clear k1 kerosene; there is no need to have more than five gallons on hand. Store it in a clearly marked metal container outside of your home in a garage or shed.
  • Always ventilate the room by slightly opening a window when using a kerosene heater.
  • The Madison Fire Department highly recommends the use of carbon monoxide detectors when fuel fired auxiliary heating devices are used.
  • Never try to use the stovetop burners or oven to heat a house or apartment.