Another Winter Spare the Air Day Issued for Friday in the Bay Area

December 26, 2013 14:00 pm · 50 comments


More air will be spared on Friday, as a series of “Winter Spare the Air” alerts issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District continues.

District officials announced today that wood burning will be banned in the Bay Area on Friday for the fifth day in a row and the 20th day this season.

Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, thanked the public for observing the restrictions and acknowledged that there have been a lot of wood-burning bans lately.

“We continue to see stagnant, pollution-trapping weather conditions and unhealthy levels of air pollution in the region, prompting another Winter Spare the Air alert,” he said.

On such days, residents are not allowed to burn wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel indoors or outdoors, unless they live in a home where woodstoves or fireplaces are the sole source of heat.

Those who violate the ban for the first time will have to pay $100 or take a wood-smoke awareness class; subsequent violations will be punished with a fine of $500 or more.

The idea of Spare the Air days is to keep the air as clean as possible on days when high levels of unhealthy particulate matter have accumulated close to the ground.

Winter Spare the Air season runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. Bay Area residents can check the daily burn status by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN or visiting the district’s website at

© 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Pro Fi December 26, 2013 at 2:04 PM

OK bobfshed.. tell us how it is….. for the umpteenth time…. what causes air pollution Dr. F?

Bobfshed December 26, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Over 80% of the pollution in the air today is caused by sources other than wood fireplaces!

Silva December 26, 2013 at 2:19 PM

This is such a polarizing topic. I can only say that I can smell lots of wood smoke. I’m on my maximum doses of breathing meds, and I can barely breathe.

Economy Suffers December 26, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Looking at predicted winds for next 10 days don’t see a shift to an onshore flow. Might want to forgo spending on after Christmas sales so there’s money to pay utility bill when it comes.

Bay Area economy will be taking a hit in January an possibly February and March when family budgets are thrown out of whack by high utility bills. Family’s discretionary spending will be cut for lack of money.

russ December 26, 2013 at 2:41 PM

STAD is now being renamed STAY…spare the air Year

Free Heat December 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

For you do it yourself types, YouTube has all kinds of solar heater videos.
This first one is using downspouts and soda cans, quick to build.

Pro Fi December 26, 2013 at 3:11 PM

@ Free Heat… That is LEGIT! Thanks for the post!

Policy of Truth December 26, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Sorry to break it to you folks but heating your home with a traditional fireplace is about the most inefficient way to do so. Not only is 90 percent of your heat and 100 percent of the SMOKE going up the chimney but it is also drawing heated air from the inside of the house. What you mostly experience is radiant heat from directly in front of the fire….the rest is wasted energy. (that is reality)

If you are so worried about your energy bills perhaps you cannot afford to live in the California Bay area with its freezing winters. (that was a joke).

*It is so sad that the children have to go without presents, and that the economy is now going to collapse due to your lack of discretionary money because of your “high” PG&E bill. (that was rhetorical).

-BAAQMD is not in any way shape or form linked to PG&E.
-Life will not come to an end if you cannot have a fire for a few days.
-Most anti spare the air comments here by a few individuals are not based in reality and are only an effort to vent personal frustrations with being asked by the air board to act responsibly. They do however provide a small level of amusement and creativity. (that was a small list of facts)

A liberal December 26, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I found out today where all the BAAQMD haters shop… they go to FoodMaxx on Clayton Rd. And they’re about as intelligent and fit as you’d expect… i.e. not at all.

Rob December 26, 2013 at 3:48 PM

@Policy of Truth

Indeed, unless you have a well constructed fireplace with a good heat exchanger a fire place can be pretty to look at – will keep you warm if you sit in front it of but otherwise is not a very effective means of heating a building.

Schmee December 26, 2013 at 3:51 PM

It’s legal to burn weed in my house but not wood.

“My how times have changed”


@Policy of Truth December 26, 2013 at 3:58 PM

EPA approved Wood pellet stoves are efficient and cost effective.

I see their outright ban as a step backward, short sighted and outright LAZY. The number of violators ticketed in the period mentioned here on Claycord (believe it was 30 days) is a joke, many cities with only a single or zero violations over the period.

Way back when “they” encouraged people to buy EPA approved pellet stoves and allowed their use on STA days. Was a great idea that incentivised folks to act in a positive manner. Turned gross polluting chimneys into low pollution ones.

With outright ban there is NO incentive to upgrade and reduce pollution output in any way from old fireplaces. For me would actually save me money to remove my EPA pellet stove and go back to burning split wood.

My pellet stove is both an efficient method of heating my house (uses outside cold air for combustion) and is better for the environment than an traditional old chimney fire.

Incognito December 26, 2013 at 3:59 PM

@A Liberal #9
I guess that includes you, too, huh?

Anon. December 26, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Dear Policy of Truth.

You write us we are “being asked by the air board to act responsibility.”

You sound like Nancy Pelosi when she says they are going to “ask the wealthy to pay their fair share”

Why do you people get all wishy washy? The BAAQMD isn’t “asking” anything. They are mandating it.

Silva December 26, 2013 at 5:22 PM

@ A Liberal; interesting.. how did you spot them? I personally have never burned on a STA day, even though I don’t have a working furnace, but I’ve been known to shop at Food Maxx!

. December 26, 2013 at 5:28 PM


Once again, the Libs make gross generalizations……

I don’t like the BAAQMD; I don’t shop at FoodMaxx, and I work out 6-7 days a week – cardio and weights. I bet I’m a he11 of a lot healthier than you…

Now take back your comment…..

Shuley December 26, 2013 at 5:30 PM

@ policy of truth

We bought our home 2 years ago and the inspector told us our furnace was so old it is basically not safe to use. I am looking at 15-20K to replace the system (we’ll need a new electrical panel, duct work, insulation, etc). In the meantime, I installed my fireplace insert which burns wood or pellets and has a fan. I can heat my entire home (2300 sq ft) for the entire winter with 1-1/2 cords of wood. If I run my heat when it gets cold, my bill is over $400 a month. That’s what I spend on wood for the whole winter.

We are likely going to put in zonal ductless heating & A/C next year, but in the meantime I would risk the .0001% chance I get a BAAQMD ticket than freeze all winter. I don’t burn for a “pretty fire”, I burn to stay warm. Not everybody fits into your situation..

@12 December 26, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Well said. Thank you.

MrDuckyWucky December 26, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Mr mayor:
I live in clayton and our garbage was not picked up today. Can you please provide an update to that? Our waste company is Allied Waste.

please try your best to stay on top of these matters. thank you.

Silva December 26, 2013 at 8:00 PM

@Free Heat; That is AWESOME !!!

Free Heat December 26, 2013 at 8:01 PM

This from a person up where it’s really cold
At noon Outside air temp: 5.4 F, Inside air temp: 61.7 F,
Solar Furnace exhaust temp: 125.4 F
An he does btu calculations.

Side note, if pellet stoves use air from outside house for combustion they are Very efficient.

Policy of Truth December 26, 2013 at 8:16 PM

@ et. al,

I thought I was being specific for the masses when I wrote; “Sorry to break it to you folks but heating your home with a traditional fireplace is about the most inefficient way to do so.”

Key words; “Traditional fireplace”. Traditional fireplace= bricks, mortar (i.e. chimney), fireplace grate/screen.

Notice, I did not say; Buck stoves, pellet stoves, Fireplace inserts, forced air blowers, etc. When it comes to modern wood burning appliances, I agree with many of you, they should be exempted and allowed for use on spare the air days.

@ Shuley- I also would agree, if you have an unsafe furnace (heating system), don’t use it! Under that circumstance, common sense and your inspection report would dictate that if your pellet stove is the only (safe) way to heat your home than it would be permitted.

There is no “one size fits all” and common sense isn’t always common-especially around these parts.

ClayDen December 26, 2013 at 9:08 PM


The regular Thursday garbage pick up in Clayton will be Friday this week due to Christmas.

A liberal December 26, 2013 at 9:39 PM

#16, riding around on your scooter doesn’t count as “working out.” And what are you going to do if I don’t take it back? Hit me with your cane?

Triple Canopy December 26, 2013 at 10:27 PM

My fire is “illegal”, it’s “undocumented”.

Whynot December 26, 2013 at 10:28 PM

My entire house is a nice 70 degrees right now and all for FREE!!! Ive been burning my wood stove every day for the last month. Its great. BAAQMD can pound sand.

Triple Canopy December 26, 2013 at 10:28 PM

… oooops. My bad.

My fire ISN’T illegal, it’s undocumented.

vindex December 26, 2013 at 10:29 PM

This is crazy. I could see all over claycord today. I could see the hills clearly. This organization is out of control.

MrDuckyWucky December 26, 2013 at 11:08 PM

Mr ClayDen:
thank you sir!

JRConcord December 27, 2013 at 7:36 AM

I love the smell of woodsmoke on a cold winter dsy

Dr. Jellyfinger December 27, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Speaking as one who does have breathing problems I’d just like to thank those of you who comply & don’t burn wood on those pesky spare the air days. It’d probably help if I gave up the cigars too…. but I enjoy them so, nix that idea.

eyewhen December 27, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Bravo triple canopy!!!

Connie Dobbs December 27, 2013 at 8:15 AM

#28 Your matches and kindling were undocumented, but the fire started here so it’s legal.

Facts December 27, 2013 at 8:57 AM

@ Policy Of Truth

I and many others agree with you on the exemption. But do you know why? Let me explain and this is for the rest of you as well.

At the meeting held at the Concord Senior Center when this first started at which 13 people attended and only TWO spoke for the “proposed” law. Jack Broadbent introduced himself and went on to tell the group how this “proposed” law would “save our lives”. He said he was a member of the American Lung Association (President or something like that). He did not stay long so he did not answer any questions nor talk about the chart on the wall that they (Air Quality Board) had provided which had levels of pollution listed on it. BUT as he was leaving I heard him tell one of the people from his group, ” I will be glad when these public hearings are over so we can pass this regulation and outlaw all wood burning”. Beginning to sound like a done deal no matter what. Back to the CHART their chart. On it there was a vertical line listing different items and the amount of pollution (Particulate Matter) they produced. At the top were the open fireplaces. Remember now they say that the pollution from 1.4 million fireplaces causes our pollution problems which has now been changed to 1.4 million fireplaces and wood stoves! Further down the line and WELL within safe guide lines were two listing on top of each other. Remember now this chart is showing the amount of pollution(soot, particulate matter) produced by different devices. The top one of these listing was EPA, now that is the Environmental Protection Agency, approved wood burning devices: stoves, inserts and pellet stoves. Right under that was and I do mean right as in the thickness of a piece of paper were natural gas burning devices. When asked why and how they (the gas burning devices) were listed as producing pollution the person responded that the devices produce particulate matter and that it is harmful to you. When asked why EPA approved devices were not going to be exempt even though they produce the same amount of pollution as gas burning devices the response was, it is/would be to hard to keep track of them so we are going to prohibit all wood burning devices. Guess it would to hard for a computer program/ permit process?

Seems like now when they state a SPAD they say “pollutants” are trapped next to the ground which “includes wood smoke” instead of “wood smoke being trapped next to the ground”. Maybe because as others have said it is not the wood smoke causing the problem but pollution from the “other devices” as well. That’s right. As everyone of you turns on the gas fed heater/fireplace log/water heater you are contributing to the problem more than the ones who elect to burn wood using a EPA approved device as there are WAY more gas fed devices than wood burning ones.

Another item to ponder is during the summer months they (the AQB) only RECCOMEND that you do not have outdoor fires, drive your car/truck, use lawn mowers/weed trimmers/blowers etc. BUT during the winter they “outlaw” wood burning and do NOT say anything at all about all of the other items which contribute to the “problem” as well. Hmmm

Last of all. Remember last year the fire at Chevron? The one that sent a big cloud of smoke (particulate matter) up into the shy and miles downwind. Remember the statement by Jack Broadbent? The one in which he first stated that “there was no pollution from the cloud” which later turned into “our monitoring stations did not detect any pollution”. Kind of makes you wonder where these “monitoring” stations are and whose pocket he is in doesn’t it.

Bottom line is this is a personal attack by Jack against a small group as compared to the rest and it is much easier to attack a small group (divide and conquer) than deal with a larger and more powerful group. No matter what the real facts and figures are. By the way Jack is NOT an elected “official” he is an appointed one.

Facts December 27, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Just saw a couple of miss-spellings I did not catch, sorry bout that.

Incognito December 27, 2013 at 9:10 AM

It’s not the end of the world if we don’t burn our fireplaces for a few days, and it’s also not the end of the world if we are permitted to burn a nice fire on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Kalifornia Native December 27, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Kerosun glowing nicely

Silva December 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM

@Free Heat; that is just too cool. I wonder how PG&E keeps that under such tight wraps? Well just ’cause I never heard/saw something so easy & effective before doesn’t mean everyone else hasn’t also, right?

Bobfshed December 27, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Nice write up!

@Silva December 27, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Building codes years ago allowed inefficient homes, back when natural gas was cheap. These days I wouldn’t build a house unless it had 2×6″ outside walls and triple pane glazing.
It’s not PG&E, building permits and home owner associations can cause problems with solar heating. City councils and building dept.s are sadly way behind the times on solar.
Pull a permit and you’ll be spending extra money on Mandatory upgrades “they” deem needed. They are inflicting social engineering thru building permits.

Facts December 27, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Well your favorite agency just posted another alert for tomorrow. Seems awful quick. Maybe they did not want to see if things got better in ONE area before his, opps I mean their decision. Every other day the alerts are not posted till at least 2PM but not today. Why the rush??

Almost forgot earlier but did not want to go on to much. But remember back in early November the forest fire outside Napa? Why was there not a spare the air day then ?? Maybe forest fire smoke is different than EPA wood burning device smoke.

Also read todays CC TIMES. Nice article about how everyone is now killing themselves (and their neighbors) by using Natural GAS to cook with.

All of this by people who “know what is good for you”.

@Facts December 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Hey, it’s Friday, maybe they’re taking rest of the day off.

Bobfshed December 27, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Sunday there will be a football game in Oakland. In the parking lot before the game you can burn whatever you want. The BAAQMD will not go anywhere near there!

Burnin December 27, 2013 at 1:14 PM

The BAAQMD are liers and manipulaters! That is fact!

Burnin December 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM

The BAAQMD policies are a failure. According to them there has been a ban on wood burning but the air is the worst it has ever been. Obviously they are targeting the wrong group. Fact!

Burnin December 27, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Almost two-thirds of California households using gas burners without venting range hoods are exposed to toxic gases, according to a new study by a team at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Winter cooking is worse than summer. The researchers urge use of effective range hoods.
This is for all of you who are cooking and heating with natural gas!

Burnin December 27, 2013 at 1:44 PM
shannon December 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM

I am waiting for someone to start a class action law suit against Bay Area Air Quality Management. I will be ready with pen in hand to sign on.
These Spare the Air BS is completely out of control. I firmly believe this agency is in cahoots with PG & E who are laughing behind everyone’s back. Go smell the air in Martinez —-from the refineries —during the day and see the stink and heavy unhealthy air that exists during the day. I do NOT want to hear that they are regulated. There have been many shelter in place alerts from them all year.
This has been a very cold winter with icy mornings for CC County. People do NOT have the money to pay outrageous heating bills when families are struggling and can heat their homes at night with wood to keep children and elderly warm. This power that this agency has is garbage. Anyone have any legal ideas? I am sure there would be a landslide of folks signing on petitions for a lawsuit against this agency. Next they will declare no burning all winter long. Watch how compliancy is dropping.

@shannon December 27, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Im with you. I can see a justification for bans, from time to time. Where they over reach is declaring bans in the whole Bay Area, when it may be safe to burn in one part. Kind of mass punishment.

They also will not change a ban, even if conditions change. I think they are real vulnerable there.

In addition to the above, they will not disclose who the official is that makes the final decision.

Someone should make a public record request for their policies, and decision makers names.

I hope someone takes them to court.

Burnin December 27, 2013 at 4:40 PM

The Health Hazards of Natural Gas
Posted on August 1, 2001 by admin
The Health Hazards of Natural Gas by Agnes Malouf and David Wimberly, Summer 2001,
The British medical journal, The Lancet, reported in1996 that the use of domestic gas appliances, particularly gas stoves, was linked to increased asthma, respiratory illness, and impaired lung function especially in young women. Women using gas stoves had double the respiratory problems of women cooking on electric stoves. The same study showed that using extractor fans which vented the cooking fumes outside did not reduce adverse effects of gas. … The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Clean Air Guide (1993) identified gas water heaters, furnaces, unvented space heaters and cook stoves as significant contributors to chemical contamination in the home. … ”For the chemically susceptible individual this gas may be the worst form of fuel,” writes Dr. T. G. Randolph. But surprisingly, his studies found that when gas stoves were removed from the home of a person with chemical sensitivities, not only did their health improve, but so did the health of all family members. … Natural gas brings harmful chemicals into homes through the methane it contains. Methane (which gives the flame its blue colour as it does in propane) is an asphyxiant. … “Natural gas is dangerous for several reasons,” says health advocate Helen Lofgren . … “Unplanned leaks and the danger of explosion compound the risks of gas.” … But let’s keep it far away from the air we breathe inside our houses, apartment buildings and schools. If we consider health care costs and the impact of living with illness, bringing natural gas into our homes is not a sensible choice.

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