Only EPA-certified wood burning stoves and inserts and pellet stoves are allowed. These devices are mostly those manufacturered after the early 1990s. Devices should have a label
documenting its certification status. Click here for a list of EPA-certified devices.
The use of any uncertified wood heating devices, including fireplaces, uncertified fireplace inserts and uncertified wood stoves, is banned in the Smoke Control Zone.
All outdoor burning throughout Spokane County is also banned.
According to Ron Edgar of Spokane Clean Air, the ban–now in its 13th day–has kept fine smoke particles from building to unhealthful levels. “We have been able to keep smoke emissions within the acceptable range, while avoiding a full-out ban on all wood heating, which would be the next stage (red) if pollution approached the federal health standard,” explained Edgar.
Extended, consecutive-day burn bans have occurred in the past. During the last ten years there was a 13-day ban in 2002, 8-day ban in 2003, 6-day ban in 2005, and a 5-day ban in 2007.
There were no wood burning restrictions in 2008, 2009 or 2010, but that has certainly changed in 2011. “Weather patterns are certainly a key factor in issuing wood burning restrictions, though it does concern us that wood burning in general may be up a bit. We’d like people with the older stoves to consider upgrading them to either new wood or pellet devices or gas stoves or inserts,” added Edgar. “The newer wood stoves burn much more efficiently using less wood to heat.”
Under a Stage 1 burning ban:
- No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.
- No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
- It is OK to use natural gas, oil, propane, pellet and EPA certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.
The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).
Wood burning devices, such as stoves, inserts and fireplaces are responsible for approximately 80% of the particulate (smoke) pollution in Spokane County during the winter months. Over 2,000 tons of fine particulates are released into the air during the wood burning season.
Throughout the heating season, wood burners are advised to check current burning conditions prior to lighting any fires, by calling the Burning Information line at (509) 477-4710 or visitingwww.spokanecleanair.org. While online, residents can subscribe to receive an email when a burn ban is issued and rescinded-there are now 625 subscribers to the Burn Ban email listserv.