In the late 1970s Bob Fisher bought an A-frame cabin in the mountains of Oregon. It occurred to him that burning wood in the fireplace was not heat-efficient and that there may be a better way to generate heat from a stove. He created the first airtight steel-plate stove that was welded together. By keeping the heat contained he was able to direct it as needed into his home. This homemade appliance's popularity grew at first by word of mouth and then till nearly 500,000 units of the first model were being sold. The original names of the models were "Papa Bear," "Momma Bear" and "Baby Bear."
In the 1980s, the Fisher Stove International Organization looked at the safety regulations and began enforcing them. Fisher realized that the early models of Fisher stoves did not meet the EPA regulations, but the new models did. These were redesigned and manufactured by steel companies. While most of the new models meet the regulations they are still not considered "clean burning" and have fallen out of favor as a result. Older Fisher stoves are high polluters and may even be illegal in some jurisdictions.
Style and Design
The design of the Fisher stove is based on observing how heat is lost from a fireplace. By closing the chimney off and limiting release to only a small hole, approximately 6 inches in diameter, the heat would be retained in the room. The Fisher wood stoves have a plume-pipe that extends from the top of the steel box structure and releases the smoke outside. Older models have steel doors whereas newer models have heat resistant glass doors to show the fire within.
As mentioned, the Fisher stoves are no longer available in the United States. They are still available on a limited basis internationally. They are regularly sold in New Zealand. You can find these for sale on the secondary markets such as on eBay or Craigslist. It is important you understand that if you are purchasing a Fisher wood stove, you know that obtaining parts and repairs on it may be problematic. You should also consult with a local fire department as to whether the model you are purchasing is compliant with EPA standards.
Parts and Service
As mentioned, because these are no longer sold in the states, you may have a difficult time finding replacement parts or proper servicing for your Fisher wood stove. You may find parts from New Zealand sources or other secondary market sellers. Check FisherStoves.co.nz for more information.