The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has apparently unilaterally decided to ignore its own Regulation 6 and impose a ban on wood-burning fireplaces in the guise of administrative "delay."
To add interest, several counties - maybe most of the nine in the BAAQMD jurisdiction - have bypassed the BAAQMD rules and have approved fireplaces according to their own rules - apparently in violation of state law.
Are you interested? Below are some facts, leads, questions and recommendations if you are.
The EPA has a Voluntary Fireplace emissions program which requires fireplaces to be tested to an ASTM fireplace test standard with a passing grade set by the EPA and to negotiate with the EPA a quality assurance plan.
The EPA has listed seven fireplaces as "qualified" on the EPA Burn-Wise website.
Meanwhile the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) developed Regulation 6 which recognizes the EPA Voluntary Fireplace Program and permits a "fireplace, masonry heater or other wood-burning device of a make and model that meets EPA emission targets and has been approved in writing by the APCO."
Yet in the more than two years since Regulation 6 went into effect on January 1, 2009 not one of the seven EPA qualified fireplaces has been approved by the APCO (BAAQMD).
That is not to say that fireplaces are not being built in the Bay Area. Many (especially outdoor fireplaces) are built without permits, some get permits at the county level because they are on the EPA Qualified list bypassing the BAAQMD and sometimes homeowner's pay fines or get their lawyers to work it out with the building officials.
1) Is Regulation 6 being intentionally and disingenuously administered as a ban rather than as a regulation?
2) What is the authority of the BAAQMD vis-a-vis City and County regulators?
We, who have clean-burning fireplaces that are not being approved by the BAAQMD and who don't like the uncertainty and questionable legality of the backdoor approval methods, would like to see the State Legislature clarify the authority of the BAAQMD and require the BAAQMD to amend Regulation 6 as follows:
1) Bring Regulation 6 up to date with the final version of the EPA Voluntary Program and the final ASTM E2558 standard by changing "low mass fireplace" to "fireplace" now that masonry fireplaces are included in the test method and the EPA program.
2) Require approval by the city or county building official instead of the APCO (BAAQMD).
The amended Regulation 6, Section 6-3-303.3, establishing the Criteria for Sale, Resale or Installation of Wood-burning Devices would read:
For background, details, reasons why fair regulations would improve air quality and drive technology and for referral to other sources, contact:
Doing business in California through McNear Brick and the masonry materials dealers listed at http://www.superiorclay.com/dealerca.html
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