Skyrocketing Oil Price Prompt Town To Seek Alternative Heating Program

Barrel Fire

With the national average of oil skyrocketing to $5.71 a gallon, some towns are seeking ways to combat the soaring costs of home heating. The town of Attleboro Massachusettes is currently proposing indoor barrel fires as a way to provide a cheaper alternative to oil. The town would provide low-income residents with a free barrel and some wood. “This is a great way to keep our residents warm in the cold winter months at almost no cost to them,” says one town official. “We currently have barrels and wood on hand, so we are confident this plan will work out well.”

The proposal has received mixed reviews from residents. Some worry that the smoke from the fires will become a nuisance for people living in nearby homes or even for those living in the same building as an indoor fire pit. “There is no ventilation when you burn wood indoors,” says one resident. “It gets pretty smoky inside and stays that way for hours afterwards. I know of three apartments where their neighbors have burned barrels inside, and all of those people say it is really hard to breathe because of all the smoke.” Other residents are more accepting of the plan, especially if they receive free firewood each month with their free barrel. “If I can save a few hundred bucks each winter, I am happy to just set my barrel on fire and have the town provide me with some firewood,” says one resident.

The proposal is modeled after similar programs in other countries such as Russia, China, Australia and France. The program was proposed in 1876 by Thomas Edison as a way to heat homes using recycled firewood and old car rims. Records show that over 200 U.S. cities began implementing this program back then, but none of them published any long-term results or information about safety or effectiveness. As a result, voters rejected all but 13 of these proposals at the polls due to concerns about safety, sanitation and environmental impact.

The city council will consider accepting this proposal at their next meeting on November 1st. The council will then vote on whether or not to institute the plan permanently. “If we do decide to implement this plan we will publish detailed plans for how each resident can participate in the program as soon as possible” says one city official who supports the plan if it saves money for taxpayers. The council is expected to vote unanimously in favor of implementing this plan with only two members voting against it. Two members are against it due to concerns about air quality inside buildings where people burn barrels indoors during cold weather months. “Burning barrels indoors releases pollutants into our air that are unhealthy for our residents and can lead to breathing problems like asthma attacks and can potentially be fatal.

Despite some dissenters however, Attleboro is staying on track with it’s plans to provide low-income home residents with free barrels and wood in hopes that it will help revitalize their local economy and keep them warm through these cold winter months.

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