Wood Burning Fireplace Ban a Trojan Horse?

Carriage horses, low-rise 19th-century buildings, wood burning fireplaces — the Mayor doesn’t seem to have much use for the 19th century. The mayor’s ban on building new wood burning fireplaces will take effect July 2, so build your fireplaces while you can. But the new law could be a Trojan horse, soon to be followed by a ban on all wood burning fireplaces, according to a story in The New York Times.

Montreal implemented a similar innocuous sounding rule a few years ago, and is now requiring all residents to actually remove wood burning stoves and fireplaces by 2021, said the Times. That sounds a bit extreme. London also banned the burning of wood and “other solid fuels” but has not demanded residents rip out their mantels and stoves.

A family in Park Slope spent $17,000 outfitting two fireplaces and a chimney in their brownstone to burn wood and they use it “as often as five times a week” in the cold months. A couple in Bay Ridge reclaimed their circa-1900 fireplace from a family of raccoons but they’ve only used it a handful of times. Two Boerum Hill roommates actually used their fireplace to heat their apartment this past winter, until they realized their windows were actually slightly open.

Science says each wood burning fireplace creates 6,200 grams of heart-stopping, asthma-inducing particulate matter a year, vs. 23 grams from a natural gas fireplace.

But while the utility of a wood burning fireplace is questionable, its symbolism is great. “There may be no feature of a New York apartment more sought after, yet less used, than a wood-burning fireplace: one of the city’s great real estate holy grails, keeping company in the dream-apartment pantheon with walk-in closets and private outdoor space,” said the Times.

What do you think of the Mayor’s ban?

That Dream Apartment With a Crackling Hearth Is Losing Some Spark [NY Times]
Photo by Cara Greenberg

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