Friday, October 29, 2010

Licensed to Burn!

I was hoping for something wallet-size.  And I guess they overestimated the demand for these when they had them printed back in 19-something... but I am glad they're saving trees and money by using up the old forms and just crossing out the nineteens.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This is Why Amherst has a Reputation...

We're having a wood stove installed in our house, and because I'm a Good Gumby, I'm jumping through the Official Rules and Regulations that Keep Us Safe.

So I read up on wood stoves on the Town website, and find out I need to pass a "Woodburning Device Operator Examination" from the Amherst Board of Health.

I have an embarrassing confession: several years ago I operated a woodburning device without being properly licensed (our house on Butterfield Terrace had a wonderful German ceramic woodstove). I should've been fined $50 the first time I did it and $200 every other time.

That'll teach me. I've read the Town Bylaws (well, except the Zoning Bylaws, I'm not that big a masochist). I guess I was supposed to read all the Health Board Regulations, too ("ignorance of the law is no excuse", after all).

Anyway, the Woodburning Device Operator Examination is open-book multiple choice, and I expect I'll be properly licensed soon.

What really prompts me to write this is my experience trying to get a permit for the woodstove from the inspections department. Two weeks ago I sent them an email asking what I needed to do... no reply ("we're switching email systems and haven't fully converted everything yet...").

So on Friday I walk in and ask what I need to do. I'm given a form with the sections I need to fill out helpfully highlighted and am told to fill it out and come back with a check for $30.

Which I do on Tuesday. Which is when I'm told that the form isn't enough, they need to know all the manufacturer clearances and dimensions and how tall the stovepipe and what the heat-shields on the wall will be made out of and so on. And I shouldn't really be filling out the permit application, my contractor should be. But I can if I really want to and am willing to be a daredevil risk-taker.

I have an idea: lets get rid of Town inspections. My insurance company has the right incentives-- it doesn't want my house to burn down, but it also wants to keep me as a happy customer. Let insurance companies inspect wood stove installations. If they don't answer their email and then give me the runaround I can fire them and hire their competition.

And maybe they'd offer a discount on my insurance for taking their version of the Woodburning Operators Examination.