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Firefighters give thumbs up to lighter ban
[October 05, 2009]

Firefighters give thumbs up to lighter ban

HIGH POINT, Oct 04, 2009 (High Point Enterprise - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Fire officials are applauding a new law that took effect last week.

After action by the North Carolina General Assembly over the summer, a statewide ban on the sale, distribution and promotion of novelty lighters went into effect.

The lighters are made in the design of animals, toys, footballs, pens, cell phones and countless other items and can easily be mistaken for playthings, according to fire officials. Many have lights, visual effects and sound, and resemble toys or characters familiar to children.

"A lot of adults can't tell the difference, and that's the really bad part, because a child can bring it home and you just don't know what they may have," said Capt. Denita Lynch of the High Point Fire Department.

Lynch recalled an incident in which a young child playing with a lighter that looked like a Dalmatian ignited some bedding that led to a fire that caused extensive damage to a house a couple of years ago. Earlier this year, a child playing with a novelty lighter ignited a fire that damaged a Dollar General store in Jamestown.

Officials said there have been more serious incidents involving injuries linked to the lighters in other states.

Five states have banned the lighters, which are commonly sold at convenience and hardware stores and are considered by some to be collector's items.

"There is no good reason to disguise fire danger as a toy that would appeal to children," said North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin. "I'm thankful the legislature passed this ban on novelty lighters in North Carolina; we are all safer because of it." A first violation of the ban carries no penalty but the law says subsequent instances can be punished by fines of up to $500 per violation. The law does not apply to the possession of novelty lighters.

"I am just glad this thing passed and I hope that it will cut down on several of the fire incidents not just here but everywhere," said Lynch. "That could mean a life saved from this coming about." -- 888-3531 To see more of the High Point Enterprise, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2009, High Point Enterprise, N.C.

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