Wood Burning and the Law

If you use a fireplace or wood stove in your home, Washington State regulations require you to manage your fire properly and responsibly. Improper burning results in excess smoke, which fouls the air and is harmful to your health.

If you choose to heat with wood, follow these guideline to help maximize energy output and minimize pollution.

Here’s What You Need to Know

  • Burn only manufactured logs or dry, seasoned wood. It is illegal to burn anything else. This includes garbage, treated wood, paper (except for starting the fire), and plastics. For a complete list of prohibited materials, please refer to Washington Administrative Code 173-433-120.

  • Watch your chimney smoke. Generating excessive smoke is not only rude to your Chimney Smokeneighbors, it's illegal. Under state regulations, smoke from your chimney cannot exceed 20 percent opacity (as shown in the left panel in the image to the right) for six consecutive minutes in any one-hour period. Greater smoke densities could result in fines from air pollution control officials.
    • It is always illegal to smoke out your neighbor. Everyone has a right to breathe clean air. If smoke from your fire is affecting your neighbors, it is considered a nuisance and subject to enforcement action [Regulation 1, Section 9.11 (PDF)].
    • Tip: To help minimize smoke, burn small, hot fires and give the fire plenty of air. Check your chimney occasionally: If you see smoke coming out, you are not burning hot enough and are wasting fuel. Let your fire have more air, and check your chimney again.
  • Observe burn bans. When the air agency declares a burn ban, it is unlawful to use your fireplace or uncertified wood stove, unless this is your only source of adequate heat. During Stage 2 Burn Bans it is also unlawful to use pellet stoves and certified wood stoves. Sign up for burn ban alerts.

  • Don't buy, sell, exchange or give away uncertified devices; it's illegal. Wood stoves, fireplaces, and other solid fuel burning devices sold in Washington must be certified to meet Washington state emission standards.