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CONSUMER ALERT: DON'T GET BURNED WHEN BUYING FIREWOOD

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas consumers who heat their homes with firewood should know that a "cord" is more than just something attached to an electrical appliance.

In fact, a cord is a unit of cut wood by which firewood can be sold in Arkansas. The Arkansas Bureau of Standards has adopted specific regulations on the sale of wood to be used as fuel in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. The regulations stipulate that all firewood sold in the state must be sold as a cord, a fraction of a cord, or in terms of cubic feet.

Thus, to make sure that consumers get the most for their money when buying firewood for the winter, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today issued this consumer alert.

"Consumers increase their likelihood of overpaying or even being scammed if they buy wood by the truckload or other imprecise measurements," McDaniel said. "We encourage consumers to always buy quality wood in standard units like a cord and to get a receipt after any purchase."

A cord is defined as 128 cubic feet of firewood. To measure a cord, the Bureau of Standards recommends neatly placing the wood in a line or row, with individual pieces touching and parallel to each other. There should be as few gaps as possible (Some unscrupulous vendors may stack logs loosely as a way to shortchange consumers ).

If, when measuring the stack of wood, the width times height times length equals 128 cubic feet, then the stack qualifies as a cord. For example, a stack of wood that is four feet high, four feet wide and eight feet long would be considered a cord, as would one that is 2-by-4-by-16.

McDaniel said consumers should avoid advertisements for wood sold in hard-to-define quantities like "truckload," "rick," "pile" or "face cord."

Consumers are encouraged to get a receipt that shows the price, amount and kind of wood purchased, as well as the seller's name, address, phone number. Consumers with complaints or concerns should contact the Bureau of Standards at (501) 570-1159 before they burn any wood.

When buying firewood, consumers should consider the type of wood for sale. Dense woods, like hickory and oak, generate more heat and burn longer than soft woods such as pine or spruce. Dry, seasoned wood is safer and more effective than newly cut green wood. The higher moisture content in new wood can create more buildup of tar and creosote in a chimney, increasing fire dangers.

Stacked wood should be kept away from the home to prevent termites and other pests from making their way from the wood into the house. Use a protective covering like a tarp to keep the wood dry and usable.

For more information on this or other consumer issues, call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982 or (501) 682-2341, or visit the Consumer Protection Division's website at www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.

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