Summer’s almost here, and that means BBQs, pool parties, and camping. And as fun as all that is, how many times have you thought, “You know what this party needs? A flamethrower”? Well, you’re in luck. Not only are flamethrowers already available, but a recent effort to regulate Elon Musk’s flamethrower has failed. So, you’re relatively free to light it up. What could possibly go wrong?
After a year that saw the worst wildfires in the state’s recorded history, a number of California lawmakers were understandably nervous about a flame-throwing citizenry. When Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) saw the news about Elon Musk’s new product, Not a Flamethrower, he thought it was a joke. He said that in light of California’s devastating wildfires, the product is “incredibly insensitive, dangerous, and most definitely not funny.”
Current California law requires a $425 permit for flamethrowers that shoot farther than 10 feet. Other than that, there is little federal or state regulation when it comes to flamethrowers. Santiago’s bill, in its original form, would have expanded the permitting requirements. However, even after it was reduced to mere requirements for warning labels, it still couldn’t make its way into law. So, since Musk’s flamethrowers are designed to stay within that 10-foot range, they’ll remain lightly regulated.
Fire and Injury Liability
Despite the relative availability of recreational flamethrowers, pyros beware. There are some very real consequences for damage and injuries caused by fire follies, whether intentional or accidental. For example, a teen who unintentionally started the enormous Eagle Creek wildfire in Oregon last year was just hit with a $36 million restitution fine. Others have faced jail time and massive civil lawsuits for their fire accidents.
So, while a flamethrower may seem like a really effective way to kill spiders or wow your party guests, use extreme caution to avoid serious consequences. And if you’ve been injured by someone else’s pyrotechnics, or you’re worried about your own liability, consult with an attorney who can help protect your interests.