North Bergen plans for outdoor dining this winter

Electric and propane heaters can be used at local restaurants

A heater used for outdoor dining, by Shutterstock.
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A heater used for outdoor dining, by Shutterstock.

As the fall weather moves in and temperatures cool off, the Township of North Bergen is working with restaurants, bars, and other eating and drinking establishments to assist them in serving customers safely.

Some local restaurant owners have been stumped while looking for solutions to maintain outdoor dining in winter. While indoor dining has resumed at 25 percent capacity, many small restaurants will still rely on outdoor dining to make end’s meet.

North Bergen restaurants will be allowed to use propane or electric heaters for outdoor dining. 

The heaters must adhere to rules and regulations outlined by the North Bergen Department of Public Safety’s Fire Prevention Bureau.

The Township’s Fire Prevention Department will conduct inspections. 

If a township investigator determines that a heating device does not meet requirements, and owners do not not comply, the township reserves the right to revoke the restaurant’s outdoor seating permit and ability to participate in street closure events.

Rules and regulations

Heaters can not be placed within five feet of any building or combustible material. This includes inside any tent, canopy, or membrane structure.

Heaters can not be located within five feet of exits.

Heaters must be equipped with a tilt or tip-over switch that automatically shuts off the flow of propane if the appliance is tilted more than 15 degrees from vertical. A tip drill must be performed prior to usage.

Restaurant personnel must understand how the heaters function. Patrons must not interact with the heaters.

A secured fire extinguisher shall be placed within 25 feet of heaters.

The maximum individual capacity of the propane containers in the heaters cannot exceed 20 pounds.

The propane container for the heater shall not be stored inside the structure or within five feet of any combustible construction. The container cannot be within five feet of an opening in a wall, vertically or horizontally.

The use of temporary wiring for electric heaters shall be limited to what is absolutely necessary. Extension cords need to be rated for outdoor use and must be powered by a protected outlet.

Permanent wiring installed requires a Uniform Construction Code permit.

Extension cords or wiring must be positioned sothat it doesn’t present a danger to those walking in the immediate area.

Helping local restaurants

Earlier this year, Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the Township Commissioners adopted and updated resolutions and ordinances allowing food and drink establishments to use outdoor seating on sidewalks and during designated street closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Bergen has been holding “Eat and Shop Local” events during which streets are closed to allow outdoor dining in the street. The program is coming to a close for the season.

Bergenline will be closed to traffic between 70th and 76th Streets from 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 through 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.