Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congressman Tim Bishop applauded the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s recall of approximately 2 million gel fuel firepot products sold by 9 companies and urged the agency to continue the push to remove all harmful gel fuel products from the market. In June, the lawmakers called for an immediate recall of all forms of liquid firepot fuel and urged CPSC to investigate manufacturer’s labeling which claimed that the “product was safe for use.”
“These harmful products have caused unnecessary pain and damage to the lives of many across the nation,” said Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop. “The CPSC has taken the right steps to stop the sale of millions of dangerous liquid firepot fuel and must continue the push to immediately remove all of these defective products from the market before more burn accidents take place.”
“Two weeks ago, Michael Hubbard’s family celebrated his 15th birthday in an intensive care unit where he has lay for three months,” Congressman Bishop added, in reference to a Riverhead, NY teenage who suffered third degree burns to 40 percent of his body as a result of a fuel gel accident. “This is an important step to make sure other families don’t suffer the way Michael’s has.”
The 9 companies recalling the gel fuel are: Bird Brain Inc., Bond Manufacturing, Sunjel Company, Fuel Barons Inc., Lamplight Farms Inc., Luminosities Inc., Pacific Decor Ltd., Real Flame, and Smart Solar USA. CPSC is in continuing talks with an additional company about a voluntary recall.
The potential dangers of liquid fuel have been demonstrated in a number of incidents over the past several months involving accidental ignition, victims suffering severe burns due to the fuel’s resistance to conventional extinguishing methods. Three New Yorkers suffered severe burns involving pots and fuel from Napa Home & Garden Inc. Fourteen-year-old Riverhead resident Michael Hubbard was in critical condition at Stony Brook University Hospital after suffering severe burns from an explosion of liquid fuel marketed as FireGel, “the Safe Pourable Gel.”
The ethanol-based fuel burns blue or clear with almost no smoke, making it difficult to determine if the flame in the pot is lit, with an explosion possible if additional fuel is added to the already-lit pot. This month, the CPSC opened an investigation after eight similar incidents involving FireGel and similar products were reported nationwide. The ceramic firepot products, a wick-less alternative to traditional Tiki Torches, began appearing in stores in 2008.
“We are concerned that other brands of pourable fuels may cause similar injury to users and ask that this investigation be expanded to include the larger category of all liquid firepot fuels. While this investigation is underway, we ask that all forms of liquid firepot fuels be removed from the marketplace to prevent any further injuries to consumers,” Bishop and Gillibrand wrote in their June letter to the CPSC.
The full text of Gillibrand and Bishop’s letter is below:
We are writing today to express our concerns regarding the safety risks associated with using liquid fuel and ceramic firepots. In recent weeks, many Americans have suffered serious injury while using these products and we ask that you recall all forms of liquid firepot fuel until a thorough investigation as to the safety of these liquid fuels can be completed.
It is our understanding that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has recently undertaken an investigation into the safety risks associated with the illuminating fuel produced by Napa Home and Garden and this product has been recalled from stores at the request of the manufacturer. We are concerned that other brands of pourable fuels may cause similar injury to users and ask that this investigation be expanded to include the larger category of all liquid firepot fuels. While this investigation is underway, we ask that all forms of liquid firepot fuels be removed from the marketplace to prevent any further injuries to consumers.
Additionally, we are very concerned by the lack of oversight into product labeling in this case. The liquid firepot fuel manufactured by Napa Home and Garden contained a label asserting that the “product was safe for use”. According to the product manufacturer, the word “safe” was intended to reference the fact that the product did not produce harmful emissions. This type of label was misleading to consumers and we ask for greater accountability and oversight for product labels for these types of products.
We appreciate the swift action of the CPSC in beginning this investigation and look forward to working with you to safeguard consumers from these faulty products and prevent any further injuries.