NYC to Ban Wood Burning Fireplaces in Historic Brownstones?

finished - kitchenIf you are thinking about putting in a new wood burning fireplace or restoring that old fireplace, will the new Mayor’s proposal affect you?  Bill de Blasio recently announced proposed updates to New York City’s Air Pollution Control Code that might affect your decision to not wait.

Now, de Blasio already has mixed review in this household.  Forcing certain 10 year olds to go to school in a snow storm and then cancelling after school programs so that their first Valentine’s Day dance was cancelled, did not go over too well.  We are conflicted on the horse carriage in Central Park ban (couldn’t proper regulations fix it such as only owner-driven horses) and positive about bringing the fireworks back to the East River.

When we first heard this news we were panicked because we spent a tidy little sum on reconstructing our fireplaces and the thought of not using them was quite distressing, not to mention we counted on them being a factor in our home’s resale value.

According to various news media websites (not always so reliable) the proposed changes would include banning new fireplaces from being in built in residential homes. If you are like us, a wood burning fireplace was high on our list of must-haves when we were purchasing our home.  Long snowy winter nights just wouldn’t have been the same without being able to curl up by the fire.

It is unclear how the new rules would affect homes that already have fireplaces that require reconstruction.   Would it make a difference if there is a chimney in existence but no smoke boxes?  Ours were really decorative heat conduits that pumped heat from the coal burner through the house.  From what we’ve read it looks like as long as the chimney is there that you might be ok.

For those who already have reconstructed fireplaces, the proposed codes say you can still use them but the regulations would require that home owners only burn wood with a low moisture content.  We are fine with that.  How they are going to enforce it is another question.  Are they going to hire wood police?  I hope retailers who sell wood only sell approved wood because I can’t tell the difference.

Apparently, it has only a handful of sponsors so we shall see where it goes.

**and for those who read the NY Times article that made us look like environmental hussies, the point I made was that, like stairs, the novelty will wear off and we will probably only use it a few times a year and we would of course follow the law on what to burn.