A Stage 1 burn ban was issued Wednesday morning (Jan. 11) for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, banning the use of fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves until air quality improves.
“To protect residents from worsening air quality, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is issuing a Stage 1 burn ban for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, effective at 4:00 p.m. January 11, 2012, until further notice,” reads a press release.
High pressure over the Puget Sound region will bring cold temperatures and calm winds, according to Clean Air Agency forecasters. Air quality is expected to deteriorate at least through Friday, especially in communities where residential wood burning is common.
Clean Air Agency staff follow a protocol set by state law to determine when and where to issue a burn ban, and when to lift a burn ban.
During a Stage 1 burn ban:
- No burning is allowed in fireplaces or uncertified wood stoves. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled. The only exception is if a wood stove is a home’s only adequate source of heat.
- No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
- Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
It is OK to use natural gas, propane, pellet and EPA certified wood stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.
The Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who are sensitive to air pollution limit time spent outdoors, especially when exercising. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing, and make lung and heart problems worse. Air pollution is especially harmful to people with lung and heart problems, people with diabetes, children, and older adults (over age 65).
The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation.
For more information:
- Frequently asked questions about burn bans 
- How can one tell if their wood stove is certified, and OK to use during a Stage 1 burn ban? Age matters – if the stove is over 20 years old, it is likely uncertified and prohibited for use during a burn ban. Uncertified wood stoves are no longer legal to sell or purchase in the State of Washington due to the significant pollution they generate. A certified stove will have an EPA label on the back .