San Francisco Bans the Use of Fireplaces During Christmas

Building a fire during Christmas might be a family tradition of yours, and depending on the weather, you may have built one on Christmas morning.

But it’s illegal in San Francisco. Just during Christmas. Christmas Eve and extending through Christmas Day. KTVU reported:

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the season’s 17th Winter Spare the Air Alert for Tuesday, officials announced.

The alert bans the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel both indoors and outdoors for 24 hours.

Although a strong weather system moved through the Bay Area late last week, air quality officials said, a high pressure system has set up across the region and pollution was once again forecast to reach unhealthy levels .

“We want everyone to enjoy their holiday this week, but unfortunately, weather conditions are causing unhealthy, muddy air again,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District. “Air is forecast to be extremely unhealthy this week so it is imperative that residents protect air quality and not burn in their indoor or outdoor fireplaces.”

It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to use their fireplaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices during the alert.

Homes without permanently installed heating, where woodstoves or fireplaces are the only source of heat, are exempt, officials said.

Air quality officials said that like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains fine particles and carcinogenic substances that make the air harmful to breathe. Wood smoke is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area in the wintertime and is especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions.

First-time violators will be given the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class, online or by mail, to learn about the hazards of wood smoke pollution in lieu of paying a $100 ticket. Second violations will result in a $500 ticket, and subsequent ticket amounts will be higher.

They try to make it sound so reasonable by claiming they’re concerned about air pollution. I think they just want to make a buck or two during Christmas. Maybe they’ll send their bureaucrats around with nose telescopes, sniffing for wood smoke and hoping to catch violators. And who’s going to want to go to some lame “wood smoke awareness” class? Most violators would probably opt to just pay the fine and be done with it.

Prohibiting people from building a fire in their own fireplace is definitely ridiculous. It’s kind of like prohibiting people from washing their car in their own driveway. If it’s not about money, it’s about control.