Rules for tiki torches hinge on fuel, sources


POSTED: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

QUESTION: Our neighbors installed gas tiki torches along a wall that separates our properties. The torches are within 10 feet of our bedroom windows, so we're concerned that when they fire them up, the gas smell is going to be unbearable and cause a health hazard. Are there any health or building regulations regarding this? One torch is about three feet under our main power lines, which come from the poles across the street. This is a dangerous fire just waiting to happen.

ANSWER: The state Department of Health's Clean Air Branch said its air rules allow fires for recreational, decorative or ceremonial purposes, including tiki torches.

Depending on the location and size of the torches, they might be an odor nuisance, but it's difficult to assess any health risk without knowing the specifics, according to a toxicologist with the Clean Air Branch.

If the torches are fueled via gas lines coming from a remote source, the owners would need to obtain a building permit, said a spokesman for the city Department of Planning and Permitting. Those torches also would fall under the rules of the plumbing code, which requires a permit.

“;If there is no permit, (then) it would be an automatic violation,”; said a plumbing inspector with the Health Department. The Health Department's rules also require the use of a licensed plumbing contractor to install the gas torches, he said.

Tiki torches fueled by oil are not subject to state or city approval or permit.

Still, if you have any concerns about a potential fire hazard, call the Honolulu Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau at 723-7161 or 723-7162.

An inspector can be sent to assess the situation.


To Straub Clinic & Hospital maintenance workers. Straub maintenance workers used to run their leaf blower beginning at 7 a.m., then they began starting earlier and earlier. On April 7 the noise began at 5 a.m. and on April 9 at 4 a.m.! They don't just walk up and down the street one time, they go up and down, up and down—what are they doing, trying to get rid of the leaves or redistribute them?—No Name

Straub hires an outside company for the leaf-blowing chore, “;and they are told not to come sooner or blow leaves any time sooner than 7:30 (a.m.),”; said Claire Tong, the hospital's director of communications.

A company representative “;claims they haven't been doing that before 7:30,”; she said, indicating the earliest they would start would be 7 or 7:15 a.m.

But that's “;not a typical practice,”; and workers never start as early as 4 or 5 a.m., according to the company, she said. Nonetheless, in acknowledgment of the hospital's neighbors and patients, Straub's facilities manager “;has emphasized to them that are not to start before”; 7:30 a.m., Tong said.

QUESTION: Do you know which schools participate and collect “;Boxtops for Education”; and Campbell's “;Labels for Education”;?

ANSWER: Hundreds of schools in Hawaii participate in the two programs, which allow schools to earn learning materials and athletic equipment by collecting Campbell labels, or money by collecting General Mills box tops.

The easiest way to find a participating school is online at and boxtops4education (although this website requires you to sign in), or just to call a school you want to help directly.