NDA offers tips and precautions when buying firewood

October is Firewood Awareness Month: Know what you’re buying and how to prevent the transport of pests


Ciara Ressel
Public Information Officer I
SPARKS, Nev. - October 22, 2018

As winter months approach, the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) urges consumers to stay informed when moving and purchasing firewood. Consumers need to be cautious of introducing pests or being misled by measurement terms when buying firewood.

Buying only as much firewood as needed in a single season is the first step in consumer defense. Transporting firewood or keeping it after the burning season can result in unwanted pests, such as bark beetles, infesting your yard or neighboring trees.

Consumers should also avoid storing firewood next to or inside of a building or a home. Although the risk is low, it is possible to introduce pests such as carpenter ants and termites into a house. Even firewood that is not showing signs of infestations in the winter could pose a problem when temperatures increase, and the pests become active.

“Insects and pests often lie dormant in the winter and then reemerge when the weather warms,” Jeff Knight, NDA state entomologist said. “Leaving firewood inside could risk the possibility of bringing those insects out of dormancy and introducing them into your home.”

Pests aren’t the only thing consumers should watch for. Advertisements can mislabel firewood, leading buyers to believe they are purchasing more wood than they actually are.

Per Nevada regulations, persons offering firewood for sale must use specific language. Legal terms for trade of firewood in Nevada are: full cord (128 cubic feet), half of a cord (64 cubic feet) and fourth of a cord (32 cubic feet). Smaller quantities of packaged firewood (less than 1/8 cord or 16 cubic feet) may display the quantity in terms of cubic feet or liters. Buyers should use caution if sellers use any other terms, which could be an attempt to mislead.

“We’ve seen cases where sellers use nonstandard terms for the firewood they are selling,” Cadence Matijevich, NDA Division of Consumer Equitability administrator said. “The best way to prevent being taken advantage of is getting the seller’s information—name, address, phone number or license plate. You should also request a receipt from the seller showing the price, amount and type of wood purchased.”

Here are some general precautions to reduce risks when buying firewood:
• Buy firewood where you are planning to use it to reduce the risk of introducing pests in new areas.
• Only buy as much firewood as you need.
• Buy firewood labeled as “full cord,” “half of a cord” or “fourth of a cord,” or in the case of small quantities, labeled in cubic feet or liters.
• Get a receipt showing the seller’s name, price, amount and type of wood purchased.
• If you must move the firewood, remove the bark before transport.
• Keep firewood outdoors, stacked away from your house and trees and three to four inches above the ground using a non-wood material.

Should a buyer believe they have been shorted wood, they are encouraged to contact the seller to inquire about the purchase. If the dispute isn’t resolved, they can contact the NDA’s Division of Consumer Equability. If a consumer thinks pests have been introduced into their home or yard, they should submit a sample to the NDA’s Entomology Lab.

The Nevada Department of Agriculture promotes a business climate that is fair, economically viable and encourages environmental stewardship that serves to protect food, fiber and human health and safety through effective service and education. The NDA includes the five divisions of Administration, Animal Industry, Consumer Equitability, Food and Nutrition and Plant Industry.