CPSC Tries to Put the Lid on Fire Pots

In May 28, 2011 a 14 year-old boy in Riverhead, N.Y. suffered severe third-degree burns from a fire pot that exploded as he poured fuel into it.  Today he still struggles to recover. In June, Brent Miller, a 51-year-old property manager from Kissimmee, Florida, died after a 33-day hospitalization. Miller was pouring fuel into a fire pot, when it exploded, setting Miller, his wife, plants and other objects on the lanai aflame.

Scenarios such as these have prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to regulate so-called fire pots, and the alcohol-based gel that fuels them. Fire pots are portable, decorative “lighting accents,” used both indoors and out. According to the CPSC, firepots were introduced into the marketplace in 2010, with 2.5 million units sold since then. They are often ceramic; some are partially enclosed by glass, and all contain an open stainless steel cup to hold the alcohol-based gel that produces a large flame. They are currently unregulated by voluntary or mandatory standards.