All the Equipment Your Restaurant Needs to Comply with 2020 FDNY Outdoor Dining Regulations

lamppostAs the weather continues to get colder and the threat of COVID-19 continues to keep your customers outside in a socially distanced space, it’s crucial that you provide them a source of heat to keep them comfortable. Outdoor space heaters are the perfect solution, but they need to be used in accordance with FDNY regulations.

Below, we’re going to go over the safety requirements for using outdoor space heaters in your business and how to remain in compliance throughout the winter.

Safety Requirements for Using Propane Heaters

The FDNY very strictly regulates outdoor space heater use for your safety and that of your customers.

All heaters must be approved by a nationally recognized testing lab as required by OSHA, and at least one fire extinguisher needs to be present for every 2,500 square feet of outdoor space. The extinguisher needs to be 2A:10-B:C rated. Contact one of our professionals for help with getting an adequate fire extinguisher that complies with FDNY’s regulations.

The outdoor area needs to be free of trash and debris, no-smoking signs need to be posted, and your establishment must enforce the no-smoking rule.

There are limitations to the storage and use of your propane tanks as well. You can only have one 20-pound tank per space heater on premises at any given time. No larger tanks are permitted.

Heaters need to remain in place while in use and disconnected from the propane tank at the close of business. Connecting or disconnecting heaters from propane cannot be done during business hours. Lastly, connections to propane need to be checked for leaks after connection each day.


In addition to the safety regulations detailed above, there are some prohibitions that the FDNY has implemented for safety reasons as well.

No space heater can be used under an outdoor tent unless specifically approved by the FDNY, and propane sources need to be set at least 10 feet away from tents or other coverings. Heaters are also never allowed on roadways, and they need to be at least 5 feet away from any wooden benches.

Lastly, propane can never be stored below grade.

Rules for Spare Containers

Spare containers can be stored on-premises, but there are strict rules in place for proper storage.

You can store up to 45 1-pound containers on your property. If stored outside, they cannot be kept on roads or sidewalks or within 10 feet of a building’s doors, windows, vents, or other openings.

If stored indoors, your spare containers need to be in an area with a sprinkler system and away from heat sources. They can never be stored below grade.

Regardless of storage placement, your spare containers also need to be in a compliant storage structure, which the FDNY defines as a metal cabinet marked with “no-smoking” and “Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)” signs.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Failure to abide by FDNY’s rules and regulations regarding outdoor space heater use will result in an order to discontinue use and remove any space heater or propane tank.

In addition to knowing and following the guidelines, your restaurant must purchase the right equipment to remain in compliance with these new outdoor dining regulations. Don’t get caught without it. Speak with one of our fire safety experts to get your compliant propane storage structures today.