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Environmentally-friendly fireplace.

For those who have no hope of flying south, nothing is cozier on a cold, Hoosier winter evening than a mug of hot cocoa and a blazing fire.

A Huntington-based company may not be able to provide the hot cocoa, but it sure knows a thing or two about fireplaces. Majestic Co. was established in 1907 to manufacture furnaces. In 1954, the company introduced the factory-built fireplace and became the industry leader.

Although fireplaces today are used more for decoration than for heating, Glenn Thomson, Majestic's vice president of sales and marketing, says each fireplace requires months of research and development. The creations of the company's 17,000-square-foot lab--the largest such facility in the world--are about 40 models, with variations, that are more efficient and more aesthetic than ever. At least 50 more fireplaces are in development.

Fireplaces are a hot environmental issue in some areas of the country, says Ray Deasy, the company's president. Some Western cities have issued ordinances prohibiting the use of conventional fireplaces in new construction because of the amount of particulate matter they emit. Some of those same cities are now accepting Majestic's Free-Flame heat-circulating fireplace, because it reduces particulate emissions by 50 percent by recycling polluted flue gases into additional heat. Carbon monoxide emissions are reduced by 75 percent as well.

Another kind of non-polluting fireplace is the gas-burning fireplace. This type of fireplace is not new, developed about 15 years ago. The gas shortage of the '70s hurt the product's growth, but environmental concerns brought them back, and Thomson says the past three years have seen gas fires catch on again.

No blue flames here, though. No chopping wood or cleaning up ashes, either. Instead of using 10 or more matches to light a conventional fire, flip a switch and you have instant, realistic golden flames dancing around the cast logs. Wall switches or hand-held remote-control systems are optional.

There are other variations to the line of gas-fueled fireplaces. One type would give St. Nick a little trouble--it doesn't have a chimney. Rather, a rear wall vent is the only exterior evidence of a fireplace. Another model reduces the amount of heat lost up the chimney with its thermally activated automatic flue damper.

Natural-gas logs are an option for those with traditional fireplaces who want the benefits of a gas fireplace. This system, which includes the components of a gas fireplace, can be installed in any wood-burning fireplace. All that's needed is a gas line run into the fireplace.

For purists who can't do without the smell of real wood burning or the sound of crackling logs--or those who even enjoy chopping wood--Majestic still makes traditional fireplaces. However, some don't look so conventional. Some can be viewed from adjoining rooms, others have glass on two or three sides, and one can be viewed from all four sides.

Majestic products may be an Indiana tradition, but Hoosiers are far from the only customers. The company not only obtains materials from around the world, it also ships products all over the world to such places as the Far East and Europe, Deasy says. Glass and stainless steel are bought domestically and internationally, marble is sent from Italy and electronics are made overseas and in Canada. The mantelpieces, though, are made in Fort Wayne.

With so many different Majestic-made ways to brighten up a dreary, winter day, there's no reason to go out and leave the coziness of a fire. Just don't forget the hot cocoa.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Made in Indiana
Author:Gilbert, Jo
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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