Firepots are advertised as decorative and functional additions to outdoor spaces. They are supposed to be attractive accessories to outdoor gatherings and act as an insect repellant. Firepots, and their corresponding fuel gel, are marketed as “people safe” and the “cleanest and safest fuel you can buy.” However, despite the outward façade of innocuous backyard ornaments, users of these products are reporting second and third degree burns and disfigurements from exploding firepots and fuel spills related to the products.
Many of the firepots boast a design that, while aesthetically pleasing, is unstable and consequently highly susceptible to tipping. When the firepot tips over, its open reservoir spills the burning hot gel. The fuel gel, sold for use with the firepots, is a volatile, highly flammable liquid with vapor denser than that of propane. Despite the obviously dangerous chemical properties of these fuel gels, the product does not adequately warn of the related safety procedures. This gel has been compared to napalm. Once it adheres to skin or clothing it is virtually impossible to wipe off – the flaming hot gel simply continues to burn, leaving victims and bystanders helpless.
Firepots and gels are quickly being removed from the shelves they used to line. Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, recently issued a consumer alert related to a recall of the dangerous products by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. Madigan warned “Illinois consumers should immediately stop using fuel gels in light of [the] recall.”
Kupets & DeCaro, P.C. recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of a three-year old little girl who suffered severe burns. While playing in her backyard, she followed a toy under a metal picnic table. As she retrieved the toy, she bumped the table. The unstable firepot tipped over and doused the child with flaming hot gel. The little girl suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 25% of her body. Her mother, who tried to stifle the burning gel was also badly burned. Unfortunately, these incidents are not uncommon. In Manhattan, a 24-year old man has been on and off a ventilator after being severely burned by the firepot gel, and a 14-year old Long Island boy has suffered a similar fate.
Similarly manufactured firepots and gels are produced by Birdbrain, Inc. and Napa Home & Garden, Inc. The fuel gel is also marketed as Real Flame Fuel Gel, SunJel Fuel Gel, NapaFire Eco-Fuel Gel, and WinFlame Eco-Fuel Gel. These firepots and gels are sold or have been sold at Walmart, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Menard’s, Jewel-Osco, Sam’s Club, and many other retail stores.
Kupets & DeCaro is a personal injury law firm with its principal office in Chicago, Illinois. If you, a family member, or friend has been injured while using a firepot or fuel gel, please call the attorneys at 800-349-2414.