Eighth Day in a Row – Winter Spare the Air Alert Issued for Sunday December 15th

December 14, 2013 12:45 pm · 61 comments


The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has issued the twelfth Spare the Air alert of the season, banning wood burning on Sunday Dec. 15th for the eighth day in a row.

The following information is from the BAAQMD:

Wood burning is banned both indoors and outdoors tomorrow, Sunday Dec. 15, 2013.

Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy. It is illegal for Bay Area residents to burn wood or other solid fuels in fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire-pits, or other wood-burning devices.

This wood-burning ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano Counties.

Winter air pollution is mainly caused by particulates or soot pollution from wood smoke. Smoke from wood-burning fires is linked to illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease, and is especially harmful for children and the elderly.

For more information about the Wood Burning Rule, or to check before you burn, visit www.sparetheair.org or call 1-877-4NO-BURN.

You can also call 1-800-430-1515 and register to receive automatic phone calls when a Winter Spare the Air Alert has been called.

To see the current air quality forecast visit www.sparetheair.org.

Visit the Apple App Store to download our FREE Spare the Air iPhone application for alert notifications, local air quality forecasts, podcasts and several tools to help reduce air pollution!

Thank you for doing your part to Spare the Air!

This AirAlert is provided by your Bay Area Air Quality Management District.


1 Rebel December 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM

If there is a ‘Spare the Air’ alert for people with asthma, why is the CFD allowed to set fires for training?

2 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Tomorrow there will be a football game in Oakland. Thousands of people with BBQ’s, driving trucks and RV’s ……. Burning whatever they want! I suggest everyone go stand at the gates with signs telling them it s a spare the air day,especially the BAAQMD! They could walk through the parking lot and hand out leaflets.

3 KenInConcord December 14, 2013 at 1:00 PM

They are just one step away from declaring a No Burn Winter Season. Just a matter of time before they do this, for the Children, Nuns and Orphans of course!!!

4 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 1:15 PM

The pollution in the air is not from wood fires obviously. It’s from the 7 oil refineries, 7 million cars, diesel trucks, 3 major airports and all the other stuff we are doing! The wood users are doing their part, its the petroleum burners that are not doing their share!

5 Not buying it December 14, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

6 the other jj December 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM

no comment

7 Mike T December 14, 2013 at 1:48 PM

OK, let’s just cut to the chase, no more burning until hell freezes over….oh…wait a sec…I think that already happened.

8 Will December 14, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Seriously anyone out there received a letter from the air-quality board I am very interested if anyone has received a letter A fine and warning anything

9 Claycordian December 14, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Once again, I am watching the trees move around because of the wind. I’ve said it before: Jack Broadbent is a waste of skin who would not be able to hold a real job, and who suffers from a cranial-rectal insertion.

10 Elwood December 14, 2013 at 2:14 PM

“Winter air pollution is mainly caused by particulates or soot pollution from wood smoke.”

Okay, so we’ve shut down all the fireplaces, how come we still have air that you can cut with a knife?

I call bull**** on the air Nazis.

11 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 2:16 PM

The air is not bad because of wood fires. The BAAQMD and the media should ake some responsibility for this. Instead of just getting on the news and saying the air is bad so wood fires are banned, they should also recommended people do other things to cut down on pollution. By not doing this it gives people the impression that as long as wood fires are banned there will be no problem. We can see how that’s working.

12 Forecast equals a guess December 14, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Actually there is no legitimacy in a “forecast” because all it can ever be us a prediction. So how can they determine what will truly happen tomorrow before tomorrow comes??? Meteorologist get it wrong all the time without penalty because the best they can ever do is predict weather. Clearly today was a fine day to burn as there was plenty if wind in the air. I’m not buying any of this prediction bogus nonsense. How are we the people allowing a few board members with agendas, hidden or otherwise, tell us what we can or can’t do in our own homes. No one is stopping the disgusting pig behind my house from smoking his cancer sticks incessantly while he continually attempts to hack up a lung all the while his dirty chemical smoke from his chemical composed cigs penetrate my yard snd home. Yet I’m not allowed to burn the natural fallen tree wood to warm my home.

Something is not right.
Something needs to change.

13 Silva December 14, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Blecch. Gak…

14 Vindex December 14, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Blowing pretty good today. Vote out the council members and supervisors that legitimize this organization.

15 Anonymous December 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Ive written to Supervior Goia, Supervisor Piepho and Vice Mayor Ross, All elected folks and on the Board. I shall report back if they even answer.

The science is questionable, if any part of the District is predicted to be over they shut down everyone, and no one will say who makes the final decision. Also they will not stop the ban , even if conditions change.

16 Vindex December 14, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Here are names if the people we need to vote out.
Martinez vice mayor Mark Ross is one of the people. What’s up with Martinez????? “tree of spirit” and now one of the board of directors is from Martinez. Home of the refineries tells us we can’t burn a firelog???? This is insanity

17 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Thanks for the information. I will use my vote to help vote them out.

18 Bobfshed December 14, 2013 at 3:38 PM

The truth is beginning to be seen. No wood fires and we still have STA. Is there really anyone who believed that without wood fires there would be no STA nights?

19 Jq2 December 14, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Spent all our savings on an EPA certified wood stove when the heater developed a crack. Now, a few years later….no money for a new heater and illegal to burn the stove ( because the heater works) It’s been very cold indeed in our house for the past week. Feeling scr***** ( taken)

20 Mark December 14, 2013 at 4:23 PM

What happens if you don’t pay the fine?

21 Skippy December 14, 2013 at 4:33 PM

When this ban started a few years ago, they said it would be only for a few days between Nov and Feb and every year they ban more and more days, usually on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, it’s 8 days in a row and during the coldest days of the year??? If it’s freezing out, I’m warming myself with a fire, period.

22 . December 14, 2013 at 4:43 PM

So it’s time to vote out ALL incumbent politicians – regardless of party.

Who’s got the balls to do that? My guess is that everyone here is just spouting their opinions and will go back to their same old habits of voting for their favorite party/politician.

So prove me wrong.

23 Alisha December 14, 2013 at 5:02 PM

People are making way too big of deal out of this.

If you can’t burn a fire, turn the heater on. It may cost you $1 a night. Big deal.

If you can’t afford a buck, get out a blanket, and wear warmer clothing. This is CA, not Alaska.


24 bureaucrats Running Your Life December 14, 2013 at 5:22 PM

After 8 days in a row, could it, be it’s not caused by burning wood?
Is always nice to talk with a college graduate, with a Masters or Doctorate when they tell you how smart they are and all the degrees they have.
When they get all done you mention a thermometer has degrees also then you remind them where they sometimes put thermometers.

25 Triple Canopy December 14, 2013 at 5:33 PM

The air district staff and politicians are a bunch of A-holes.

26 Enough December 14, 2013 at 5:45 PM

This is nonsense. Wait until people start getting their PG & E bills who must be in cahoot with EPA and then watch compliance with these spare the air nights go downhill. Enough is enough when people can barely pay household bills to have these idiot agencies disallow another source of heat. Guess what….is Shell Refinery exempt??? Heck no!!!

27 RIII December 14, 2013 at 6:15 PM

I still believe it’s all about control. “They” whoever they are, are better equipped to think for “Us” than we are. They know how much and what we should eat, how much we should drink (including sodas) and all other things that are part of our daily lives. The wind kept all of the local trees around here moving all day today, and the leaves were blowing into my yard from my neighbor’s trees, and the freeway was full of cars and trucks. However, “They” know better than we do on how we should live. When will it be illegal to have a Bar-Be- Que in your own back yard? Is a “Hot Dog Roast a thing of the past? Who elected these people, and where did these laws come from? Were they debated on the floor of our legislature and passed by our elected representatives? Do we go to a court and have a judge impose a fine? Can we be represented by a lawyer if we don’t go along with this? Perhaps it’s time for some change. An entire week of “No Burn,” and during a week of the coldest temperatures we have experienced around here in several years may be a little too much. But. If no one complains, it becomes the norm. Anyone concerned about this? I am.

28 burn baby December 14, 2013 at 6:17 PM

I’m burning no matter what and have been. Its cold and I need to keep my family warm. The talk about turning your heater on for a couple minutes is crap. My house has old windows and the heat leaves. To all the people who say put a jacket on you can suck my chimney. I’m not burning because I want to I’m burning because I need to. Oh and by the way I’m not burning in a fireplace I’m burning in a wood insert that heats my house to 80.

29 Heat December 14, 2013 at 7:10 PM

This is insanity! We need heat in our house; after finishing the BBQ, we are lighting the fireplace. I like keeping the house at a warm 78 degrees.

30 Well... December 14, 2013 at 7:17 PM

@enough #28- Do you work for Shell? Any of the refineries? I do. There are more restrictions on refineries and more added every year on emissions. Did you know that every stack has a sensor that monitors emissions? Did you know that your car and bbq put out more emissions than a refinery?

Stop blaming them. The problem is, there are way too many people that live in the bay area. When Concord adds those 28 thousand homes in th CNWS, burning will be banned all together.

31 @Alisha December 14, 2013 at 7:36 PM

If you seriously think it costs anywhere close to $1 to heat your house for a night, you must not actually have to pay the heating bill for a house.

32 Jq2 December 14, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Alishia…the heater has a crack….that means carbon monoxide poisoning. So….no heat! Just because I spent all my savings trying to do the right thing and replacing the heater with an EPA certified wood stove. You would complain if your house was sitting at 35 degrees in the morning.

33 @30 December 14, 2013 at 8:02 PM

So the heat with wood stays in your house and heats it to 80, but the gas heat edcapes through the window. You’re a moron.

34 @jq2 December 14, 2013 at 8:08 PM

Ooh. Bad decision. You could have gotten tax credits for the heater.

35 Anon December 14, 2013 at 8:29 PM

#34, Do you have documentation of cracked chamber? If so, I thought that would let you off the hook for burning wood.

36 Keith December 14, 2013 at 8:45 PM


I would guess it costs even less, and we have a 2460 sq. ft. home in WC. Unless you run it overnight, which is ridiculous. It’s not that cold out. Our home is currently 74 degrees, without turning on the heater.

Our home is well insulated, and I have the back bedroom window open half way, as well as the dining window cracked.

You people must be living in poorly insulated homes.

37 Cold December 14, 2013 at 8:46 PM

Monday and Tuesday probably spare the air as well.

38 will the pill December 14, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Who is Jack Broadbent – how much does he make for controlling everyone’s fireplace? Where can a citizen find the salaries of the executives and staff of BAAQMD?

39 Julie December 15, 2013 at 7:47 AM

It’s 70 degrees in our home right now, and we never turn on the heat. If your home is well insulated, you don’t need the heater in the Bay Area, even on these cold days and nights.

40 John December 15, 2013 at 8:04 AM

The ‘Spare The Air’ is total nonsense. I say burn, baby, burn. Until these nannies actually ban the refineries from operation, cars from being driven, the Port of Oakland is shut down, I say it is total bullsh*t.

My proposal: Starting that fireplace up and burn it from now until March 1st. What are they going to do, fine us all? We’ll just throw the whining little bastiches out of office and then defund the entire program. We Are The People, not them.

41 Burn baby December 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM

To @30, Are you stupid? Of course the same heat leaves through the windows, but when you heat the house to 80 the heat stays in for a much longer time. #35 you can suck my chimney.

42 @40 December 15, 2013 at 8:32 AM
43 Connie Dobbs December 15, 2013 at 8:43 AM

Yes, Keith, it’s their fault for buying a used house. Most older (pre-1950s) buildings have no insulation, or they use newspaper for insulation. The people who built them must have come from someplace colder and figured they didn’t need insulation here in Sunny California. The building I live in is from the 19-teens and has no insulation in either the walls or the roof. It gets right balmy in here in the summer, and in the winters our unheated bathroom is about 10 degrees above the outside temperature. It keeps my rent cheap, so there’s that.

44 @Keith December 15, 2013 at 10:27 AM

You must really mean it when you say you’re guessing then. I own an off-grid, solar home that is absolutely packed with insulation and buttoned up tight. Most of the double-paned windows were purposely made to be South facing to take advantage of solar heating. It is a modern, purpose-built efficient house and there is no way during this cold spell that I could have maintained 74 degrees without using the heat. Not even close. Your house is going to be miserable this summer if it’s 74 degrees when low’s are in the 20′s.

45 Leave Keith alone! December 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Why do you bullies keep attacking Keith? Just because he’s a pompous know-it-all jackass? Because he’s Shelley’s husband? He really doesn’t care what you think. He loves himself enough to make up for your disdain.

46 Yhe Phantom December 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Responses to this issue prove one thing.

Public education has not worked as well as we hoped. It is obvious that too many people have dropped out and have no concept of atmospheric pollution (SMOG), metrology, (weather) or public health (asthma, COPD, pulmonary and cardio vascular heart disease).

Any effort to save lives tramples on their sacred Constitutional rights and their dueling banjo band egos.

47 Keith December 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

@Keith-46, Leave Keith Alone-47

Get a life. Make more money, and buy a well insulated home. Problem solved.

48 Typical Liberal response December 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

“If you don’t agree with my idiotic point of view, the only possible explanation is that you don’t share my superior intellect.”

Get off your high horse, already.

49 @ Ythe Phanton December 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM

“Any effort to save lives tramples on their sacred Constitutional rights and their dueling banjo band egos. ”

I hear ya bro, but… the hypocracy is stunning. Consider the blower. This is a major convenience to gardeners on every block. In fact, every gardener on every block has one. The problem being gasoline powered two stroke air choking with pollution engine. Not to mention the fact that each hour this convenience is used, it also stirs up the ground pollutants along side the smog produced by the engine.

So, if the EPA cares so much about asthmatics, why don’t they ban this appliance?

50 Bark chewer December 15, 2013 at 1:12 PM

If the air quality board really wants clean air, why haven’t they deloveped a filter for chimney . DUH. Oh and when you do, send me my FIRST check to me. I thank you.

51 DLL December 15, 2013 at 1:31 PM

I believe this is just another case of a regulatory agency going after the easy target, even if it really is not all that effective or even the biggest part of the problem. When the BAAQMD issues their alerts they have information at the bottom stating that “in the winter, wood smoke from the 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves in the Bay Area is the single largest source of air pollution, contributing about one – third of the harmful fine particulate pollution in the air. Exposure to wood smoke — like cigarette smoke — has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses and even increased risk of heart attacks.” I guess it depends on how you lump things. I believe they separate other air sources from diesel engines into trucks and stationary sources etc. So by lumping wood smoke from all sources but separating diesel sources, it might allow you say it is the “single largest source”, but that might be misleading. I imagine if you lumped all the diesel, it would then be single largest source… possibly more toxic too (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/pdfs/dieselexecutivesummary.pdf). Interesting how the example of exposure wood smoke they give above is cigarettes. I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t light a fire in my fireplace then go on the roof and stick my head down the chimney and breathe deeply, unlike what you are doing with a cigarette. They also talk about the 1.4 million “fireplaces and wood stoves”. They don’t actually say 1.4 million “fires” in those fireplaces. Just because someone has a fireplace doesn’t mean they use it.. and certainly not every day. Based on my experience in the neighborhoods I have lived in, the vast majority of the people do NOT use their fireplaces anyway…ever, that rest do so only occasionally. I don’t disagree that wood smoke can cause increases in asthma etc., but at what concentrations, and does the science show that wood fires in the Bay Area are a significant enough contributor that banning fires significantly reduces health effects? Or are they just regulating a miniscule part of the overall problem because its easy and individual homeowners don’t the clout to do anything about it, and because regulating the real problem is too difficult or would be a political uphill battle against industry lawyers etc.

52 @DLL December 15, 2013 at 4:03 PM

That was an intelligent and well-written post and I agree with everything you said. Thank you.

Too bad the Peanut Gallery is going to skim through it, reading every tenth word (if we’re lucky), then call you a moron because they can’t comprehend what you’re saying.

53 fulubulu December 15, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Hey Keith,
If you have not used the heater, had windows open, and the outside temperature was in the 30′s at the time of your post last night…how did you achieve an interior temp of 74? Something has to generate heat, especially since it hasn’t been above 70 degrees outside in several weeks. What is bringing your temp up to 74? Thanks. Not challenging you, just asking.

54 Anonymous December 15, 2013 at 5:54 PM

I’m getting coals ready right now to grill steaks for dinner. See if you can find me.

55 @#55 December 15, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Don’t know, that’s what I tried to address in post #46, but Keith just told me to “make more money” and “buy an insulated home”. I probably make more than Keith and I own a highly insulated home. Since I could not possibly achieve his results with a purpose built, insulated home, I’m curious how he is keeping his house at 74 degrees, with no heater use, during this cold weather. I guess it’s Keith’s own hot air heating his house.

Here’s one possibility for those who are handy and on a budget, to help with heating: http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/mothers-heat-grabber.aspx#axzz2nbEhKPJp

56 lizzie December 15, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Hey Keith—
I’d like to know to. My interior temp is about 10 degrees higher than the outside…. BURRRRRRRR!

57 lizzie December 15, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Broadbent lives in Martinez, just follows the rules doesn’t make them.

58 Keith December 15, 2013 at 6:56 PM

@ fulubulu@-55

To be honest with you, I’m not sure. Besides a well insulated home, we have 2 flat screen plasma TV’s, both 40 plus inches that generate some heat.

My wife cooks every night, but even before she turns the oven on, it’s usually warm.

I grew up in a house a lot of larger than ours in the Bay Area, and we rarely had the heat on.

It’s not just our house. My wife and I visit friends in the neighborhood, and their houses are just as warm. I’ve never felt the heater on, and none of our neighbors use their fireplaces. That I know of.

My bedroom window is currently open 1/4 of the way. I may or may not shut it when I go to bed. Last night it was partially open.

The insulation keeps our house cooler in the summer too, but we do have central air, and crank it when it gets hot. It definitely runs up the bill.

59 Denise December 15, 2013 at 8:03 PM

@55, Lizzie (57, 58)

I know you’re asking Keith and not me, but somebody asked me as well, and I just posted some info on another thread after googling “well insulated homes”.

If you don’t read my post elsewhere, I’ll cut to the chase.

it has everything to do with the type of insulation you have, and nothing else.

60 T vandevoir December 15, 2013 at 9:12 PM

How did we get to this point. C’mon CA. It’s a dang fire in your own fire place.
Coming soon: A schedule of when you can flush, gotta save water right?
This is such non sense

61 Jq2 December 15, 2013 at 9:16 PM

Bark chewer——my chimney has a catalytic converter. Still can’t use it!

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