Jamie McIntyre, Community Risk Reduction Manager, 509-435-7058
Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 12:26 p.m.
For the safety of your home and community, follow proper wood burning practices this winter. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) along with the City of Spokane Fire Department, and Spokane Valley Fire Department are partnering this winter to remind people that improper wood heating wastes wood, creates unnecessary smoke in our neighborhoods, and can also be a factor in house fires during the cold winter months.
“A smoky chimney is a sign that the fire isn’t burning efficiently, either due to the fuel or the operator. “A small, hot fire using dry, seasoned wood is considered best practices,” according to Lisa Woodard, Communications & Outreach Manager for Spokane Clean Air.
“December, January and February are the leading months for home heating fires,” stated Fire Marshal Greg Rogers, Spokane Valley Fire Department. “Allowing creosote to build up in the chimney is a key factor that can lead to a potential chimney fire in a home or business that uses wood as a heating source.”
“The leading factors contributing to home fires, and fire related deaths, include: failure to clean heating equipment, primarily the chimney, and heating equipment being too close to things that burn like furniture, curtains, or bedding,” stated Lance Dahl, Fire Marshal for the City of Spokane Fire Department. “There are simple steps you can take to prevent a home fire. Have your chimney serviced and cleaned by a professional and be mindful of keeping flammable items away from heating equipment,” Dahl continued.
According to Spokane Clean Air, wood smoke is a complex mixture of fine particles, carbon monoxide and other compounds. When inhaled, fine particles of smoke can travel deep into the lungs. Infants, children, adults over age 65, and people with heart or respiratory illness are at greatest risk from smoke exposure. Additionally, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, which makes people vulnerable to being more severely affected because of air pollution and smoke exposure.
When air pollution is increasing during stable weather patterns, like we are expecting this week, Spokane Clean Air may temporarily restrict wood heating in two stages, starting with fireplaces and non-EPA certified wood heating stoves and inserts. If air quality continues to decline, restrictions may be expanded to include all wood burning devices, until air quality improves. There are exemptions where wood is the sole heat source.
Local air quality and fire protection agencies suggest these steps for cleaner and safer wood heating: