The Winter Spare the Air season has started, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District reminds local residents. It runs through Feb. 29.
Read about the district's rules on fireplace use and wood burning during the winter, then scroll to the bottom of the story to take our poll and register your opinion.
Each day by 2 p.m., the Air District issues an air quality forecast for the next day. If air quality is forecast to be unhealthy, a Winter Spare the Air Alert will be called. The alert will be in effect the entire next day, for a full 24 hours.
During a Winter Spare the Air Alert, the use of fireplaces, pellet stoves, wood stoves, fireplace inserts and outdoor fire pits is generally illegal, according to an Air District press release.
Fires for cooking are not prohibited during Winter Spare the Air Alerts, but the Air District asks the public to be mindful of air quality and recommends the use of gas and propane barbecues rather than wood or charcoal-fired cooking devices on these days.
There are also exceptions for those whose only source of heat is a wood-burning device.
First-time violators are issued a warning letter. Those who are found in violation a second time are issued a citation and are subject to a $400 fine. Repeat violators who continue to burn in violation of the regulation face increasing financial penalties.
If you spot a violation, you can can file a wood smoke complaint online.
During the winter, wood smoke is the largest source of harmful soot pollution, the Air District says. Follow these district links to learn about the health effects of wood smoke, the Wood Burning Rule and how to comply with it, and answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Winter Spare the Air program.
Residents and business owners who own or use any indoor or outdoor fireplace, fire pit or wood or pellet stove can do the following:
- Call 1-877-4NO-BURN (1-877-466-2876)
- Sign up for automatic phone alerts by calling 1-800-430-1515
- Sign up for email AirAlerts