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Should towns or counties require wood be stacked and covered?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by John Ackerly, Jun 11, 2014.

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  1. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    I once read that a county required firewood be neatly stacked and covered, but it was for aesthetic reasons, not to help ensure that the wood was dry. Likewise, my own town threatened to fine me because it thought a couple cords of unsplit firewood that had just been dropped in driveway was an eyesore. I was just about to split and stack it anyway, but it pissed me off and I was tempted to fight the fine in front of the city council.

    HOWEVER, I am not opposed to regulations that require wood to be stacked and covered in places where wood smoke is really bad. We all know that a third of the problem is not the stove, or how the operator uses the stove, but its unseasoned wood. Ithaca NY is debating measure like this right now, as they are apparently coming under a lot of resident pressure to reduce wood smoke in a small city with lots of suburban areas and very hilly topography. Anyone know of a town or county that already does this? I'd love to see how they worded it and whether they think it was worthwhile.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Unfortunately I don't see how that is going to help a lot. It doesn't go after the wood seller with a requirement that the wood be seasoned. The wood can cut and split one day in October then be delivered, stacked and covered the next day. Odds are the homeowner will be burning it the same day and smoking out the neighborhood. I think some standards for wood moisture in cords sold would be more effective in communities or regions with inversion pockets that trap smoke. It's all about fair labeling. If the seller says they are selling seasoned wood, it should mean just that and test at < 20% moisture on a freshly split face of wood.
    jeff_t likes this.
  3. razerface

    razerface Minister of Fire

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    I think it is none of the govt business what I do with my firewood!
    Z33, fbelec, Joful and 1 other person like this.
  4. Chimney Smoke

    Chimney Smoke Member

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    Don't give any levels of government ideas, they already make too many rules to try to govern common sense as it is. My favorite new law is that it's illegal to smoke in a car with a child under 16.
  5. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    But if you have a neighbor, is it their business? Neighbors are main ones dragging the government into stuff like this because they expect someone to help them do something so they can enjoy their property rights. Seems like most of the time, the city or county official says they can't do anything, and then it may end up as a nuisance complaint in local court of something - which again gets government into the picture.

    As BeGreen says, best option is probably better regulations on firewood dealers, which brings government into their business, but doesn't impose anything on homeowner. In Australia, the Firewood dealer association has a incredibly rigorous process to ensure all their members only deliver dry wood and provide the homeowner with lots of documentation. Seems to work really well, and doesn't involve government.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    When there is harm to a large body of humans, someone needs to step in and set some ground rules. Common sense is often not the common denominator in population groups.
    Woody Stover and Joful like this.
  7. Chimney Smoke

    Chimney Smoke Member

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    If the overwhelming smoke in a concentrated area is truly an issue they should just make the woodstoves illegal in that area. One of the drawbacks of living in a city I guess. I'm in the sticks so it's difficult for me to relate. I can't imagine legislation stating that wood has to be properly stacked and dried before you can burn it. How would you even enforce too much smoke coming out of a chimney?
  8. bobdog2o02

    bobdog2o02 Feeling the Heat

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    It should be, biggest contribute to childhood asthma and allergies is cigarette smoke.

    Keep it the hell away from me too.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Up in the sticks here we have a serious wood smoke issue. For example take the logging town of Darrington which is nestled between high Cascades foothills. (mountains by east coast standards). A couple dozen smoke dragons can turn this community into a pollution nightmare. They did a stove trade-out that sort of helped, but it's good ole boys burning poorly seasoned doug fir that is choking this town.

    There are clean air laws on the books, but they obviously lack enforcement in this town. You can drive down the highway and see some appalling examples of smoke. Last winter on a drive up there I saw one stove burner cloud up about 1/2 mile of neighborhood during a temperature inversion. It reminded me of India.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
  10. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    I heard the same thing happening in the Libby Change Out. After a year they weren't seeing the PM reductions that they expected, and they realized that firewood storage practices were spotty so they went around and got folks to store and cover wood better.
  11. RickBlaine

    RickBlaine New Member

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    John I lived on Capitol Hill in DC for 8 years, and I am certain the law was, as you say, for looks. You can't leave a pile of firewoood, bricks, grass sod, etc lying around. It must be neatly stacked.

    As for smoking in the car with a 16 year old, I can't imagine the ignorance of a parent subjecting their child to that. I had an interesting conversation with the Minister of Tourism in Vietnam a couple of years ago. When he visited the USA a few months later- I pointed out how thankfully it was illegal to smoke in public places. Guess what- they begin their public smoking ban on January 1.

    You don't want to be in India when they are burning fresh wood....

    I am in the city and I took care to burn dry wood. My neighbors thanked me because they enjoy the smell outdoors- and no one complained of smoke. I asked. I asked everyone. I asked everyone several times. I love my neighbors and would never want to hurt them.
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I like the first part, if it is a local problem then provide a local solution. In my region they enact burning bans county by county based upon pollution levels within the deep city 50 miles away. Our counties are very large. That's irritating. I believe that politics are at play to screw with a larger number of citizens in hopes of bringing more attention to "their cause".

    You can absolutely enforce the law about too much smoke coming from a chimney. They have limits of opacity or clarity of the emissions stream. Sure, most of us can have zero opacity but with wet wood, a poor stove, or poor operation you can have 100% opacity or complete blockage of light passing through the smoke. People drive around and write tickets.
  13. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    All my neighbors love it too, except for one guy, who happens to be my best friend and works for the EPA! But I have to agree with him. When all four woodburners on the street have their stoves fired up, there are too many particulates in the air, and we all have EPA certified stoves, and most of us use very dry to pretty dry wood. Even the ultra-liberal, do-gooder environmentalists on my street can be as lazy as anyone else and not get their wood ordered, split and dry enough in time for winter.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2014
  14. BCC_Burner

    BCC_Burner Feeling the Heat

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    Wood burners need a deep pocketed lobby in Washington so that they can avoid cleaning up just like industrial polluters have for decades. I can't burn fully seasoned wood in an EPA approved stove, but the oil refineries and smelters down the road run without restrictions even during periods of the worst air quality. I heat my house with wood because I want to keep big business and the government out of my house as much as possible. Same reason I don't have cable or the internet at my house.

    Educate people about the benefits of burning dry wood, but don't try to tell me that I need to be beholden to oil and gas companies for my heat.
  15. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I for one am thankful for the no smoking in public laws. Stuff makes me sick. Wood smoke or that from a BBQ grill i dont mind.
  16. Charlie2

    Charlie2 Member

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    Only laws made for and by the locals for their individual concerns. The people know what they want, the government should only act at the peoples request.
    Johnpolk likes this.
  17. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Do keep in mind that a very large percentage of hearth.com members season their wood 3+ years, but store it uncovered, with no ill-effects. Covering firewood is more an issue in the short term (in the weeks before you intend to burn it), than an issue of long-term seasoning, in most US climes. I suspect the PNW may be our primary exception, here.
    jeff_t likes this.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Typically that is why the govt. reacts, even the EPA. The proposed new regs are a result of states suing the EPA to get something done.
  19. valley ranch

    valley ranch Feeling the Heat

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    The government suing the government? It's imbeciles!
  20. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    I said it at the wood challenge and I will keep saying it, if you want change then regulate the wood dealers, wood pellet manufacturers have rules to follow so why shouldn't the local landscape company that chops wood on the side.

    Just like smoking in a car or seatbelts, some ignorant people will not change until they are forced.
  21. razerface

    razerface Minister of Fire

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    Yep, the American free spirit. Force people to follow rule YOU believe in. If they do not agree,,, call them ignorant or some other name.
    CTBurner, Warm_in_NH and Joful like this.
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    As long as the rules are kept local and specific, I see it as the communities "right" to stop some jackhole smoggin up his neighbors. I wouldn't want to be subjected to that.

    The key to me is "local". State and fed levels seem to take a broad brush approach and often will "over legislate".
    Seanm and Joful like this.
  23. John Ackerly

    John Ackerly Member

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    Keeping regulations local is good for many things, and keeping your wood covered and stacked is one of them. But when it comes to basic air quality, water quality, consumer protection - and what sort of outdoor boilers, for example, can be sold, federal regulations are the only way to go. Its much less expensive and makes for smaller government to have some things national. Otherwise, local and state governments would each have to beef up their staffs to deal with each issue, and it would drive industry insane because they would have to comply with hundreds of contradictory regulations, instead of one.
  24. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I do understand (and agree) with some things being regulated at the fed level. My response was in reference to a local inversion issue, or an OWB causing issues for a town, etc. When it comes to stack emissions, and that type of things, yes, I agree that they need to be made across the board.

    I am not a fan of OWB, but with that said, it should be local ordinance that deals with them, not at a fed level (just as one example). A person in rural Indiana using one is a whole bunch different than some dude smoking up his little community.
    Warm_in_NH likes this.
  25. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    My uncle lives in one of the larger cities in northern Michigan, and there they had the first ordinance I had heard of concerning OWBs. Only because the guy smoldered it all summer long to heat his dwh.

    The potential effects of smoking and non-use of seatbelts cost all of us bazillions of dollars every year. You may think it should be your choice to use or not, but I don't have a choice where my insurance and tax dollars go, should you end up a vegetable or otherwise bed-ridden.
    bobdog2o02 likes this.
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