Up in Smoke: Paris Revokes Ban on Log Fires

Up in Smoke: Paris Revokes Ban on Log Fires

The prefecture of Paris has revoked the ban on wood burning fireplaces in Paris that was due to take effect on January 1st. The back-pedalling followed declarations by Segoléne Royal, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, who judged the measure too restrictive and said that “we must stop annoying people and allow them some breathing space and freedom”. Minister Royal tended to be more in favour of a grant system to provide incentives to homeowners to gradually upgrade their heating systems with environmentally efficient equipment.

It is expected that in the following weeks the other departments in the Île-de-France region around Paris will follow suit.

On December 6th we reported that the end of an era was to come as Paris issued a ban on open fires to come into effect on January 1, 2015. With much more energy-efficient central heating systems, these days the fireplace is used mostly for ambiance and reserved for special occasions such as family gatherings, Christmas, or a romantic soirée à deux. It seemed like the soul-restoring combination of a crackling fireplace, a slow glass of Armagnac, and an engrossing book would never be quite the same.

The problem appears to be that these fires are adding to the already choked Parisian air. The battle against pollution continues, amid alarming claims that the particules in the air shorten the life expectancy of Parisians by 6 months. Wood-burning fires are responsible for 23% of the evil particules, equivalent to the amount of pollution caused by vehicles.

The measure was also to apply to pollution-sensitive surrounding areas in Île-de-France, but only for open traditional fireplaces, the old-fashioned heating system that is hardly used for utilitarian purposes any longer. In order to have a log fire burning in these surrounding areas, homes would need to have an enclosed insert installed, the kind that has a glass door and improves the combustion of the fumes, or, alternatively, use an enclosed wood-burning stove.

In Paris, however, the measure was much stricter and did not allow for neither enclosed fires nor wood-burning stoves. Only very specific equipment that is classed as ultra-low emission would be tolerated, with a written waiver granted by the préfet de police.

The restriction had caused much discontent among residents and professionals. Chimney sweeps would not be allowed to maintain these systems any longer, as for all intents and purposes they would be officially extinct. Professionals claimed that this would increase the risk of house fires as people would tend to disregard the ban and use the fireplace occasionally anyway, but the chimney wouldn’t have been properly cleaned.

Source: Pap.fr / Paris.info
Photo by Alexandre Alapetite

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Sylvia is a freelance journalist based in France, focusing on business and culture. A valued member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia is a regular contributor to our publication.

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  • keepthefiresburning
    2015-01-05 14:10:18
    There are wood stove companies making wood stoves cleaner burning. Governments need to work with wood stove companies making them cleaner.


  • caresabouthealth
    2015-01-03 23:56:47
    The fact that air pollution creates ill health and that wood fires cause as much pollution as all the cars and trucks in Paris means something should be done. The 2nd best option is a polluter-pays tax. We know that 1 wood stove creates more pollution per year than 1,000 cars. So let's set the annual wood stove tax at 1,000 times the tax on a car. It may not entirely solve the problem, but at least it would be fair.