Valley burning restrictions begin...

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Valley burning restrictions begin...

Postby Wilberforce » Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:27 pm

Valley burning restrictions begin; fewer for clean-burning fireplaces

By Erin Tracy

11/01/2014 8:08 PM

The rain has passed, but nighttime temperatures this week are expected to dip into the 40s and options for warmth might be limited.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s “Check Before You Burn” season started Saturday, restricting use of fireplaces and woodstoves on days with poor air quality.

There are no restrictions Sunday, but it will be one of few that folks with older-model, “dirty” heating devices can use them, according to air district Executive Director Seyed Sadredin.

Stricter air quality regulations this year are are expected to reduce the number of burn days by half compared with last year.

In the past there were burn days and no-burn days from November to February, but this year the district is allowing those who invest in cleaner EPA Phase II-certified or pellet-fueled devices registered with the district to stay cozy by the fire nearly all winter, and it’s offering cash incentives.

A third designation of “No Burning Unless Registered” has been added by the district.

Sadredin said those with the clean units will be prevented from burning two to five days during the four-month season, compared with those with dirty units who might get up to 20 no-burn days, or up to 10 in areas of the South San Joaquin Valley.

There are no restrictions on gas fireplaces. Residents who don’t have access to natural gas services or whose only source of heat is a fireplace also are exempt.

The prospect of more burn days is enticing, but an even greater driving factor to going green has been the rebates.

During the first four weeks of the incentive program, 754 people have applied for rebates from the district ranging from $1,500 to $3,000. That translates to about half of a $2.1 million grant for the program, Sadredin said.

The base rebate is $1,500 for the clean units, which can cost $3,000 to $5,000 depending on the type and brand. Those who make the switch to gas will receive an extra $500 and qualifying low-income residents can get an additional $1,000.

Most people are making the switch to gas, according to area vendors.

John King, president of Valley Fireplaces Inc. in Salida, said many of his customers have come in asking about the incentives. He estimates business is up 10 percent to 15 percent compared with last year.

“Everybody is getting quite busy,” Mike Gorman, co-owner of Gorman Stove Sales in Modesto, said Saturday. “I noticed my phone ringing a little bit more today; when it rains people really get on the ball.”

He said about 70 percent of his sales are for gas fireplaces and stoves. There’s no wood to chop and natural gas is fairly inexpensive.

The clean-burning wood fireplace units have air filtration devices, often similar to the catalytic converters in cars, which burn 20 to 50 times cleaner, according to the district.

Sadredin said 95 percent of the pollution from fireplaces comes from the dirty units. On the worst winter days, fireplace soot consists of a third of the particle pollution hanging in the air and it is among the most dangerous.

After getting the clean wood-burning units, residents must register them with the district in order to avoid fines from its inspectors who enforce no-burn days.

“It must be registered in our database so we can target our resources,” Sadredin said. “If a person calls and says their neighbor is burning on a no-burn day, we can tell them whether or not they have a registered unit.”

Residents can register free online this year at

Next year the district will require a registration fee of $12.50, good for three years, after a chimney sweeper inspects the unit and certifies that it is properly maintained.

Sadredin said the incentives to switch to clean-burning units and a decreased number of burn days this year will reduce air pollution by 5 tons per day for the entire San Joaquin Valley.

Some 300 people have registered their clean-burning units, but there still is significant progress to be made in reducing fireplace soot in the air. The dirty units continue to make up 70 percent to 75 percent of the more than 250,000 wood-burning fireplaces and stoves in the San Joaquin Valley.

To get the daily burn status, sign up for email notifications and get information about the Burn Cleaner program, go to Daily wood-burning declarations are also available by calling (800) 766-4463 or by downloading the free iPhone app Valley Air from the App Store.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter @ModestoBeeCrime.

The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.

• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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