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Ask 13: Are training burns required to comply with air quality guidelines?

Firefighters recently burned a historic home in Mars Hill for training and that's led to some questions about safety and air quality. "When fire departments burn existing houses for training, are they required to comply with applicable state and federal environmental guidelines, specifically to air quality?" Stacy Moore wrote to Ask 13. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Firefighters recently burned a historic home in Mars Hill for training and that's led to some questions about safety and air quality.

"When fire departments burn existing houses for training, are they required to comply with applicable state and federal environmental guidelines, specifically to air quality?" Stacy Moore wrote to Ask 13.

Stacy saw news reports about the training exercise at the home that belonged to Mars Hill University. She wondered if the removal of asphalt shingles would be required prior to the exercise.

News 13 contacted the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency, which is the office that inspects and permits all training burns in Buncombe County.

The senior air quality specialist said all training burns have to be permitted by the local agency or the state.

They make sure the building is safe for fire training and that there's no asbestos or vinyl siding and, depending on the type of training, some asphalt shingles could be removed. But sometimes asphalt shingles are allowed to provide enough heat inside the structure for proper training.

Officials told New 13 all training burns require a $200 permit and inspection with the goal of minimizing any damage to the environment and protecting the safety of firemen.

If you have a question you'd like answered, write to Ask13@WLOS.com

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