In July of 2008, the Air District passed Regulation 6, Rule 3: Wood-Burning Devices to reduce fine particulate matter air pollution from wood smoke.
Don't Burn Wood during Winter Spare the Air Alerts
Under this regulation, it is illegal to burn wood, firelogs, pellets, or other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove, outdoor fire pit, or other wood-burning device on days for which the Air District issues a Winter Spare the Air Alert.
The Winter Spare the Air Alert season runs from November 1 through the end of February.
Check Before You Burn
- Call 1-877-4NO-BURN
- Check the Winter Spare the Air Alert status on the Spare the Air website home page and on www.baaqmd.gov.
- Sign up for e-mail EnviroFlash AirAlert notifications.
- Sign up for automatic phone call alerts online or by calling 1-800-430-1515.
- Local radio and TV news media will also carry announcements.
- Residents whose dwellings have no natural gas or electrical service, or whose only source of heat is provided by wood burning, are exempt from the Winter Spare the Air Alert wood-burning restriction.
Other Conditions of the Rule
- Beginning November 1, 2016, no wood-burning devices are allowed in new buildings constructed in the Bay Area. Gas-fueled fireplaces and logs, gas inserts, and electrical fireplaces are okay. Prior to November 1, 2016, the only wood-burning devices allowed in new construction are EPA-certified wood-burning or pellet-fueled devices.
- Beginning November 1, 2016, Bay Area residents who begin a chimney or fireplace remodeling project that costs over $15,000 and requires a building permit will only be allowed to install a gas-fueled, electric or EPA-certified device.
- The rule also places year-round prohibitions on excessive chimney smoke and the burning of garbage, plastics, or other harmful materials in fireplaces and woodstoves. Residents and businesses should burn clean, dry wood in short, hot fires with plenty of air in order to reduce air pollution from smoky and inefficient fires.
- Firewood suppliers are required to appropriately label their wood as “seasoned” or “unseasoned." Seasoned wood has a low moisture content and burns more cleanly than unseasoned wood. Here is the latest information about the labeling requirement.
Activities Not Prohibited
The rule does NOT (a) completely ban fireplaces and wood stoves or completely prohibit wood-burning in the Bay Area, or (b) require the replacement of existing fireplaces or wood stoves when a house is sold.
Here is more detailed information about how to comply with the Air District's wood-burning regulation.
There are some exemptions to the wood-burning ban during Winter Spare the Air Alerts. These are discussed in this Exemption Guidance Document.
Effective November 1, 2016, recent wood-burning rule amendments require anyone whose sole source of heat is a wood-burning device to utilize an EPA-certified or pellet-fueled device that is registered with the Air District for an exemption from the burn ban. An open hearth fireplace will no longer qualify for an exemption.
Fires for cooking are not prohibited during Winter Spare the Air Alerts, but we ask the public to be mindful of air quality, and recommend the use of gas and propane barbecues rather than wood or charcoal-fired cooking devices on these days.
Home Heating Financial Assistance Programs
The Air District has put together a fact sheet in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese with information about financial assistance programs for those who need help paying for their home heating needs.
Winter Spare the Air Fact Sheet
The Air District has put together a fact sheet with information about the Winter Spare the Air program and wood burning rule.