Maricopa County program offering to convert wood-burning fireplaces to gas

MARICOPA COUNTY - "I'm a biologist so I'm always looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact," said homeowner Beth Townsend.

Townsend says when she came across the county's new program that pays to retrofit wood-burning fireplaces to gas she immediately signed up. 

"As soon as it's a no-burn day, that's the day I want the fire, so that was also another big impetus to get this was I can use this on a no burn day," said her boyfriend Michael Masengarb.

Today RP Gas Piping went to work at the couples' home — threading and mounting gas pipes nearly free of charge. 

"Since the program has been in place, I think it's close to 200 fireplaces that have been converted to natural gas," said Brad Fry of RP Gas Piping.

The County is offering up to $2,000 towards the conversion by partnering with RP Gas Piping. The money generally covers the cost of parts and labor depending on the complexity of the job. 

Those interested simply need to go to the county's clean air website and sign-up. 

However, those eligible must live within the boundaries between Baseline Road and Northern Avenue and 16th Street to 59th Avenue; an area the county says produces some of the worst emissions due to outdated fireplaces. 

"The wood fireplaces burn pollution in the air and natural gas does not," said Brad Fry. "Not to mention is a lot easier to turn a knob than hunt down firewood and get it lit."

Even if your home does not have access to gas, the county can retrofit your fireplace with a catalytic converter that will achieve the same results. 

In the end, a simple click of the mouse can not only help your community stay healthier but make those cold winter nights a little warmer. 

"There's something kind of romantic about a fireplace and sitting around that warm fire, even though in this case it will be fake, watching the logs burn and the embers glow," said Masengarb.

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