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CPSC Launches Investigation of Gel Fuels, Firepots

Monday, December 26, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched a rulemaking proceeding in response to dozens of injuries associated with firepots and gel fuel. As an initial step the CPSC has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking soliciting comments by Feb. 27, 2012, on the risk of injury associated with firepots, gel fuel and gel fuel containers, the regulatory alternatives outlined in the attached notice, and other possible ways to address this risk. This ANPR also alerts the industry to the possibility of federal standards being introduced for the labeling or performance of these products, or a ban if no adequate standard can be found, and gives manufacturers a chance to present evidence to show that they have set up their own effective industry standards.

The ANPR covers firepots that are designed and intended to be used with gel fuel. Firepots are portable, decorative lighting accents marketed for indoor and outdoor use. Many are made of ceramic material and look like vases or decorative pots, but some have different features and materials, such as a partial enclosure made of glass. Firepots are also sometimes called personal fireplaces, personal fire pits, firelights or fire bowls. These products have the following characteristics in common: portable; open on at least one side; an open cup, usually made of stainless steel, to hold the gel fuel; and used with alcohol-based gel fuel. Stationary fireplaces or lighting products that have a wick or use a type of fuel other than alcohol-based gel fuel are not covered.

The ANPR also covers gel fuel designed and intended to be used as fuel for firepots. Gel fuel is composed primarily of alcohol and produces a clean-burning flame with no visible smoke or ash. The types of alcohol most commonly included are ethanol, isopropanol, and ethanol and IPA mixtures. The remaining components in the gel fuel samples are water, gelling agents and additives, including citronella and eucalyptus.

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