The Dark Side of Lighters

William B. Clemmer, a machinist from Stephenville, Texas was only 56 years old when he died. His last words, en route to a Dallas hospital, were: “My lighter exploded.”

Clemmer died on May 6, 2008 of severe burns over more than half of his body, 26 days after his MK lighter failed to extinguish and burst into flames in his pocket. Clemmer was at work on a Thursday in April, when he lit a cigarette, and placed the MK lighter in his pocket. Seconds later, the MK lighter exploded, engulfing his torso in flames. Although he was severely burned, he managed to call his brother, Ricky, who hurried over and drove him to the nearest fire station.

A quick-thinking employee, who later reported to work that day, snapped photos of the incident scene. He found the bay door to the machine shop wide open, signs of something burned and a lighter on the floor. Instinctively understanding that something was amiss, he captured the state of the workplace: charred remains of Clemmer’s clothing, the MK lighter, a single cigarette and a pack of Carnival cigarettes.

Today, the Clemmer family, through their lawyer Craig Sico, called on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to seek a recall of MK lighters, manufactured by the Chinese firm Zhuoye Lighter Company Ltd. and sold by the millions in the U.S. The Clemmers also asked the CPSC to bring the U.S. in line with other industrialized nations and implement a mandatory lighter safety standard, similar to the voluntary industry standard, which is already required in Canada and the European Union.

In 2006, the CPSC considered, but failed to take action on a request by the U.S. lighter industry trade group to make mandatory the voluntary standard American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F400, first adopted in 1975.

Dill Finally Launches Tire Valve Stem Recall

Reprinted from The Safety Record, V5, I6; Nov/Dec. 2008

OXFORD, NC-One year after a fatal crash and seven months after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a defect investigation into 30 million Chinese-manufactured tire valve stems that could crack prematurely, Dill Air Control Products has finally announced a recall.

Following the Twisted Trail of Chinese Imports

A 42-year-old Missouri man purchased a go-cart from the local farm supply store for his kids. With less than four hours on the rugged-looking machine, he and a friend were found dead, the machine overturned with a fractured front suspension where a critical weld failed. The defect appears to be just another one of a myriad of continuing quality problems that have plagued the go-cart and other motorized products distributed by SunL, the Irving, Texas importer.

NHTSA Grants SRS Request: Opens Investigation into Ford OEM Valve Stems

Reprinted from The Safety Record, V5, I5

Washington, D.C. - Less than two weeks after Safety Research & Strategies requested the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a defect investigation into Chinese tire valve stems used as OEM equipment in some Ford vehicles, the Office of Defects Investigation has complied.

On September 25, SRS President Sean Kane sent a letter to Daniel Smith, NHTSA's Associate Administrator for Enforcement, asking him to widen the current probe on prematurely cracking rubber snap-in valve stems manufactured by Shanghai Baolong / Topseal Automotive to include Ford vehicles which also used the Topseal stems. On October 14, ODI opened a Preliminary Evaluation (PE08-060) into more than a million Topseal stems on Ford vehicles, citing the possibility that they may crack due to poor ozone resistance, leading to tire damage and a possible loss-of-control crash.

Ohio Importer Recalls Six Million Chinese Tire Stem Valves As NHTSA Opens Probe into 30 Million More

OXFORD, NORTH CAROLINA -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Chinese-made replacement tire valve stems sold by Dill Air Controls for potential defects, while an Ohio importer of the product recalls six million valve stems made by the same company, because of cracks that can occur in as little as six months.

Dill has acknowledged that 30 million of the suspect and hard-to track replacement valves may be on shelves of tire retailers and distributors and on vehicles. And the scope of the problem is likely to expand - more recent evidence has emerged that appears to show that defective valve stems were also used as original equipment on some 2007 model year vehicles.

Fatal Rollover Prompts Probe into Chinese-Made Tire Valve Stems: Safety Groups Urge Consumers to Have Tires Checked

June 19: Dill Air Controls added a bulletin to their website with instructions for inspecting valve stems.

ORLANDO, FLA -- Safety advocates are urging motorists to inspect their valve stems for cracks and to check their tire pressure in the wake of one distributor's recall of defective valve stems made in China by Shanghai Baolong Industries Co. and a federal probe into premature cracking prompted by a fatal rollover crash.

As many as 30 million replacement rubber valves stems, imported to the U.S. from China beginning in August 2006, can crack prematurely, causing tires to lose air. Air loss at highway speeds may result in a tire failure and loss-of-control crash. (The valve stem is a rubber tube with a metal valve used to inflate the tire with air.)

Chinese Tire Recall Reveals Problems With Imports, EWR

PHILADEPHIA, PA. - A recall of 450,000 tires imported from China has exposed a loophole in the regulations that do not provide consumers with a remedy if an importer cannot afford to conduct a recall. The importer's discovery of the defect - through a spike in warranty claims - also demonstrates the importance of the public accessibility to Early Warning Reporting data.

In June, Foreign Tire Sales, of Union, N.J., appealed to NHTSA for aid in recalling an estimated 450,000 light truck tires sold under the names Westlake, Telluride, Compass and YKS, asserting that the manufacturer, the Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Company, had left a critical component out of the tire. Hangzhou officials have denied that the tires are defective. Initially, FTS said that it would go bankrupt if it were required to recall, replace and dispose of the defective tires. But NHTSA was unmoved by FTS's hardship claims and ordered it to file a remedy plan.

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