Check before you burn

Saturday, November 1, 2014 3:14 PM

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has jurisdiction over several Bay Area counties including all of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties.  The District implements a Winter Spare the Air program which runs from November 1 through the end of February.  During these months it is illegal to burn wood during a Winter Spare the Air Alert.  This applies to all solid fuel sources in all fireplaces and wood burning stoves.  It also applies to all outdoor wood-burning devices (including firepits and chimineas), as well as all recreational fires.

BBQ’s are not prohibited.  However, the District asks for voluntary reductions of air pollution by making clean air choices every day.  Reducing or postponing activities that pollute, including barbequing, when the air quality is forecast to be unhealthy, is one way to help reduce fine particulate emissions and improve air quality.

There are “limited exemptions” that allow people to burn wood during a Winter Spare the Air Alert:

  • When natural gas service is unavailable
  • When electrical power service is unavailable
  • Or if the wood burning apparatus is the only source of space heat

Call 1-800-4NO-BURN to find out whether it is a designated “no burn day” and whether you can have a fire in your fireplace or wood stove.  You can also check online at