Fire Marshal trying to ban novelty lighters in Bell County - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

BELL COUNTY

Fire Marshal trying to ban novelty lighters in Bell County

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BELL COUNTY -

New York is the newest state to ban novelty lighters and Bell County could be next.

Bell County Fire Marshal, Stephen M. Casey, held a novelty lighter in his hand as he fiddled with the gas switch. The lighter was designed as a charming, big-eyed blue dolphin. 

But Casey said these playful appearances could be deadly, especially for children.

"It's not a toy, it is a device that can consume their home, all their stuff and also can take their life," Casey said.  "We don't want that."

Casey is just one of many members of the Fire Marshal Association of Bell County who is making an effort to ban novelty lighters.

The Fire Marshal Association of Bell County has asked convenient stores to voluntarily stop selling novelty lighters. 

According to Casey, Valero and CEFCO have stopped selling the toy-like lighters, but if others cannot do the same, fire officials will take legislative action to ban novelty lighters in Texas.

Novelty lighters are required to be child-resistant under the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  This regulation has been in effect since 1994. CPSC staff estimated that by 1998, the child-resistance standard had prevented 3300 fires, 100 deaths, 660 injuries and $52.5 million in property loss.

But fire officials say child-resistant mechanisms are not enough.  The colorful, playful lighters as such in the picture above are captivating to children.  In fact children will work, or rather play extra hard to defeat the mechanism.

Only recently are fire officials collecting more data linking fires directly to toy shaped lighters.   One tragic story is the Sept. 26, 2011 fire in Russelleville, Arkansas.  Two young boys, ages two and 15 months, died in a fire they set in their home with a lighter shaped like a motorcycle, where the flame came out of the exhaust pipe. 

According to the national Fire Protection Association, two out of every three fires set by children, involve matches or lighters.

Casey said he has attended to many fires caused by children who played with matches or lighters.  Some children, Casey said, "found the lighters in mommy's purse."

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