When are they going to outlaw burning fires in fireplaces?

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When are they going to outlaw burning fires in fireplaces?

Postby Wilberforce » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:54 pm

When are they going to outlaw burning fires in fireplaces?
Around Town, posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 20 hours ago

I haven't been able to open my windows for fresh air all evening because someone has been burning wood since this afternoon and now it's 11:00PM and there is still smoke in the air. Is there any reason why people should be allowed to pollute the air and impact the general public because they to use their fireplace? I don't care if people want to poison themselves with cigarette smoking because it only impacts themselves. Burning a fire impacts the rest of us and should be outlawed.
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Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 20 hours ago

I've been wondering the same thing for a few days ... is burning wood in a fireplace still legal ... that's assuming that wood is not your primary source of heat.

Clearly those burning wood in their fireplaces is something the whole city cannot do anymore ... so those who do it are doing it at the expense of everyone else. It's downright antisocial if you ask me - and even worse when there is not some wind or something to disperse the smoke and it hangs in the air all day.

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Posted by BanIt, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 18 hours ago

Yes, these fireplaces spew fine particulates and toxic gases into the air that end up in our lungs. I rush inside when I start to smell burnt embers in the night air. To think, years ago I thought that was a pleasant smell. Now the facts are known, it is high time to ban wood burning stoves and fireplaces. Frankly in a well-informed community like Palo Alto, I find it very selfish and un-neighborly of people to subject people in their community to such a health hazard.
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Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 11 hours ago

We had friends over this weekend for hors d'oeuvres & drinks by the warm, glowing fireplace. Everyone had a great time, and the fire was a key part of this winter tradition, keeping friends close and comfy for hours on end.
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Posted by clean air, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 11 hours ago

It's going to be real hard convincing your neighbors to stop throwing smoke into the air on rainy days. The rain washes most of the smoke out of the air. However, on clear days, smokey air is a huge health problem for your neighbors. Many people will suffer from burning eyes or burning lungs and your smoke forces them to hide indoors. This is especially a problem for children and the elderly. If you must light up, please do it only when it is raining.
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Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 11 hours ago

This is exactly the same debate as the gun debate. Some think it is dangerous and others think it is their right.

Burning wood, coal or anything else may feel right to those who want to do it just like owning a gun feels right as a form of protection. But to those who think that fireplaces pollute the atmosphere there are others who think that guns in society make it easier for the insane or criminally minded to get hold of them and cause mayhem.

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Posted by Gary, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, 9 hours ago

Fireplaces are GROSSLY inefficient, Chris.

They suck in more cold air thru every crack and cranny in your home, no matter how new the home.

Once you get a few feet away from the fire, you can feel the cold air.

As far as your "deal"? How selfish of you. Destroying someone's health and/or quality of life, and you offer a compromise to only partially harm them?

Wotta guy!
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Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 9 hours ago

Chris, just put the image on your huge TV screen. Those "fire" DVDs can be purchased at Bed, Bath, Beyond.
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Posted by Roger Overnaut, a resident of the Evergreen Park neighborhood, 9 hours ago

"someone has been burning wood since this afternoon "

Be grateful it's wood. A former neighbor used to burn her garbage in her fireplace. Dense smoke and heavy stink.
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Posted by Karen, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 9 hours ago

>How selfish of you. Destroying someone's health and/or quality of life

As a parent of an asthmatic child, I can state that fireplaces are not the main problem, in fact a very small issue. The problem is the tree-hugger crowd, which insists that the pollen that comes off their trees is a "natural" event, thus MUST not be regulated (by the removal of the trees).

Oak trees can produce a ton of pollen, yet they are protected. It would be much healthier for our asthmatic friends, if the oak trees were cut down, and used as firewood.
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Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 9 hours ago

Gary, may you find some measure of peace this Christmas. It's out there.
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Posted by a couple times a year, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, 9 hours ago

We have a wood burning fireplace. We use it a couple of times a year. I would not understand why we would not have the right to have a wood fire burning inside our indoor fireplace a couple times a year when many other toxic things keep being allowed.

How about all the people who barbecue and have outdoor fires going every week-end in the summer? How about gas powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers? and on and on?

Please, leave alone those people who have a wood fire inside their houses a couple times a year at most.
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Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 9 hours ago

Why not convert the conventional fireplace to gas logs? You can still have a roaring fire and all of its charm & comforts.

Lights easily, burns efficiently and you can use the fireplace on the spare the air days.
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Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 8 hours ago

@ Crescent Park Dad - I'll convert to gas logs if you turn your gas BBQ into a microwave. And since Crescent Park homes are notoriously oversized, I'll expect you to buy a 200,000-lb TerraPass carbon offset for your past 10 years of overly indulgent choice of home.

TerraPass link here: Web Link

OK, now I'm expecting to hear from the PA parent who, when the fireplace scene in their childrens' favorite animated Christmas cartoon comes on, pauses the movie and reminds their offspring how inconsiderate the characters are who nuzzle up to each other in warm embrace.

Kids: Santa says it's OK to make the occasional fire, and that your parents are just stressed from work! Merry Christmas #:^) #:^) #;^)

Web Link

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Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 8 hours ago

Fireplaces are quite inefficient, as highlighted. Mr Zaharias, if he owns and uses a "traditional" fireplace, finds he has to run his heater to warm the rest of the house that has cold air sucked into it from the "draw" induced by his fireplace.

It's his energy bill, not mine.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
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Posted by Andrew, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, 6 hours ago

Lets limit what you can watch, what you can eat, what you can think, and everything else, because its unhealthy.

If you don't like it, don't do it, and spread awareness, and offer other choices, invent something, but don't try shoving laws down other people's throats.

Happy Holidays :)
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Posted by BanIt, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 6 hours ago

No one has mentioned the winter Spare the Air days and why we have them. I hope that the fireplace users at least comply with that rule, although I often smell burning on those nights too. I still think it is wildly selfish to pollute the air around your community. Sorry if it interferes with your Victorian ideas of holiday gathering around a open hearth. Below is a link to some facts about particulate matter. Maybe you can have a warm and cozy discussion about it while watching those chestnuts roasting:

Web Link

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Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, 5 hours ago

I'm in Hawaii and have yet to see one chimney.
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Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 5 hours ago

> Gary, may you find some measure of peace this Christmas. It's out there.

I find this blatant propaganda strategy irritating to tell you the truth CZ.

Your appearance on this board seems in the same motif as the way you burn fires. At 2.5 per week would be smoking out your neighbors inconsiderately, and if you have not had complaints (that you will acknowledge) I hope it is because you have extremely tolerant and forgiving neighbors and not that you are really so obnoxious that no one dares approach you to say anything.

Making the point of how you are comfy it is at home while spewing smoke into your neighborhood is classic, as is making the point that you are so fair and balanced compromising that you will cut down to what is still too much smoke.

Then when someone points out the hypocrisy, you wish them peace in the holidays. It might be out there but not furthered by hollow statements and forcing pollution on one's neighbors.

In my opinion, these days if people value the archetype of the fire and hearth, and the extravagance, enough to celebrate the holidays they should be willing to spend whatever money is necessary on gas fireplaces, or smoke processing equipment for them to be able to do it without affecting their neighbor, not waiting decades until it is discovered that hundreds of people died because of disease induced by woodsmoke from fireplaces.

Fireplace have gone the way of the outhouse, and we would never tolerate someone claiming to feel so sentimental about outhouses that they should be allowed to build and operate an outhouse on their city property.

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Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 5 hours ago

> Lets limit what you can watch, what you can eat, what you can think, and everything else, because its unhealthy.

Nah, let's not, let's just ignore Andrew whose slipshod slippery slope arguments do further the conversation except towards confrontation. Such arguments are a waste of everyones time.
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Posted by clean air is critical to many, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, 4 hours ago

Yes, the cranky ones here, about to pull out their favorite phrase ("nanny state") probably don't have a ten year old with asthma.

So "graciously" offering to pollute a little less in exchange for some egotistical "victory" ("...if three people ... acknowledge...") seems like the hollowest of gestures.

I imagine Gary has a nice warm place for CZ's phony greetings.

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Posted by I've Evloved, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, 4 hours ago

I'll never go back to a wood burning fireplace. we got a great insert and have never once longed for the days of when we had to hassle with making a fire. Push button on/off ease and clean burning gas.

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Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 4 hours ago

@ Anon - 4 out of 5 of my neighbors are great, and the 5th one & I stay out of each others' hair. So it must be that I am obnoxious, though my friends, family & neighbors have yet to tell me. I'm impressed you alone have been able to figure out my true character.

Thanks for voicing your opinions; I value hearing it. I hope you are not offended if I say that the laws of this land (Spare The Air being one), while perhaps merely an inconvenience for people like you who are in sole possession of the truth, are nevertheless the social contract we all must live by, at least until such time at which your camp imposes martial environmental law on me & mine.

My address is easy to find,

My smoke is easy to see

If Spare The Air's not in effect

You should just let me be

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Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 4 hours ago

> while perhaps merely an inconvenience for people like you who are in sole possession of the truth

Quit your nonsense, not "the" truth, "a" truth, of the truth of this case.

Pointing to the "social contract" as a Muslim points to the Koran or a Christian points to the Bible - there is nothing that makes these documents relevant to this discussion, it's the simple facts of air pollution and imposing your pollution on others without responsibility. Quit drifting off point.

and ...

In my opinion, these days if people value the archetype of the fire and hearth, and the extravagance, enough to celebrate the holidays they should be willing to spend whatever money is necessary on gas fireplaces, or smoke processing equipment for them to be able to do it without affecting their neighbor, not waiting decades until it is discovered that hundreds of people died because of disease induced by woodsmoke from fireplaces.

Fireplace have gone the way of the outhouse, and we would never tolerate someone claiming to feel so sentimental about outhouses that they should be allowed to build and operate an outhouse on their city property.

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Posted by Ducatigirl, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, 4 hours ago
Ducatigirl is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online

As someone who has asthma, and children who have asthma as well, I wish that Spare the Air days would be enforced. Personally, I wish that all wood burning wood be eliminated because it just adds to air pollution, and the pollution without the woodsmoke is enough to irritate our lungs by itself.

Not everyone with asthma can afford to live on ocean front property, which several allergists have told us over the years, is the best place for asthmatics to be. It is expensive and impractical, commute-wise, so we are condemned to breathe polluted air.

Why anyone with lung issues, or anyone who cares about someone with lung issues, would build a wood fire is beyond me. They don't even heat that well.
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Posted by So Typical, a resident of another community, 4 hours ago

Oh, I see CZ. When you agree with the laws, they are "the social contract we all must live by", but if they affect you, then they are "martial environmental laws" "imposed" on you and yours by some "camp"

Well said. Well revealed. You _ARE_ the Palo Altan. Congratulations and stay where you're at; right where you belong.
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Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 3 hours ago

@ Anon - by 'social contract' I mean 'law'. Spare The Air regulations are what applies here, and as long as I don't run afoul of those, you're in no position to tell me what to do. That legal statutes appear to you as irrelevant as one religion or the other, should give you cause for introspection.

@ DucatiGirl - I've signed up for Spare The Air alerts to be delivered to my inbox, and will abide by them and encourage others to do so, something I've not done to date - you have my word on that. I'm sympathetic to your condition, but don't imagine you are entirely unsympathetic to the value I place on quality family time.

@ So Typical - I might be wrong, but it appears you've misunderstood me. By 'until such time at which your camp imposes martial environmental law on me & mine', I was referring to Anon & others here's collective demands that I go beyond today's legal statute and stop wood burning completely. I will do so if it becomes law, but not because an ill-informed, ill-willed bunch of anonymous posters mistakenly thinks they have a moral high ground from which to speak. I burn wood from time to time, and my name is Chris Zaharias.

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Posted by pro fireplace, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 2 hours ago

I have ankylosing spondylitis and love to curl up by a roaring fire in my fireplace. As long as people abide by the law, I am in favor of fireplaces. There are always people here who think they know better how to live our lives. Where I come from they ate called yentas
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Posted by fire means smoke, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, 2 hours ago

>love to curl up by a roaring fire in my fireplace

As has been pointed out above, a "roaring fireplace" is sucking the heat up your chimney at a high rate.

The airflow out of your home must be replaced, that's why the rest of your house gets colder with your roaring fire -- the replacement air is from the outside.

I also have back issues; I find a blanket is quite comforting for the times between physical therapy and exercise. Heaters work well, and without exhausting the warm air OUT of my home.
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Posted by nor cal mom, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, 2 hours ago

This is the craziest discussion ever! Have any of you lived outside of Palo Alto?

Do you realize that in other towns people grow weed in their backyard, park multiple cars on the lawn, let their dogs poop anywhere, burn trash, throw parties without handing out flyers to warn you of the noise, ride bikes without helmets, smoke cigarettes while walking in the street, leave cars parked on the street for months, leave their Christmas lights up all year long, rent out their garage to college kids, and so on? Lower your expectations of one another.
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Posted by PatrickD, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, 1 hour ago

I bike here year round and it is extremely unpleasant to be biking quickly and then taking a breath full of smokey air. As an immigrant from Canada, it's perplexing to me why anyone would even _want_ to burn wood in a fireplace. We mostly switched to gas fireplaces a long time ago.
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Posted by Karen, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 22 minutes ago

>I bike here year round and it is extremely unpleasant to be biking quickly and then taking a breath full of smokey air.

Then you must also be sensitive to taking big lungfills of pollen-filled air in the spring. Do you agree that trees, which produce pollen, should be cut down?

I have spent way too many nights in the ER, watching my child trying to survive a severe asthma attack, caused by oak pollen.
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Posted by CleanAirMeister, a resident of another community, 0 minutes ago

"The rain washes most of the smoke out of the air"

No it does not.

<i>cam</i>
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• 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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