Question: I recently ordered a rear panel for our F.M.I. zero clearance fireplace as the original was badly cracked. I was told by the retailer that these type fireplaces are not safe for "real" fires and are only intended to be used for occasional "cocktail" fires. Is this true? We've been using it for about ten years and I'm pretty sure that we caused the cracks with the poker (the side panels are okay) Answer: Pre-fab fireplace are made for use as fireplaces....not to heat a home. However, be assured that you can build real fires in the unit just as you wold with a masonry fireplace. Don't create bonfires or burn trash or other non-wood products.