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August 13, 2014

RE: New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Issues Safety Warning on Current Social Media Stunt

Dear Mayor:

The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety/Office of the State Fire Marshal has issued an Emergency Bulletin to firefighters and fire officials statewide in response to a current social media craze. The Fire Marshal has asked us to share this with you, as well.

What is known as the “Fire Challenge,” has resulted in serious burn injury and at least one fatality. This stunt involves young people dousing themselves with a flammable liquid, igniting it, and then posting a video of it on social media.

“The most serious and possibly fatal result of the stunt is that the person, by the very act of breathing, will inevitably inhale the burning fluid deep within the lungs, causing serious and debilitating injury and in one documented case in New York State, death,” said William Kramer, Jr., New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Acting Director and State Fire Marshal. “We wanted our first responders to be aware of what they may be called on to deal with.”

Kramer says dangerous stunts and pranks that have resulted in serious injury have become a staple of social media in recent years. The “fire challenge” employs a widely-held belief that the act will result in admiration from peers, in addition to being recognized as a fleeting celebrity on the internet. This often motivates the posting of similar actions, which demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the nature of volatile liquids and the rapidity that they can “flash over” after ignition.

The Division of Fire Safety’s effort to inform the state’s local fire corps leaves them better prepared should one of these unfortunate incidents occur in their communities.

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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