This is not the kind of thing I typically blog about at Going Coastal. Nor will it be.
But, based on the discussion this topic generated in our newsroom, it seems like it merits an exception.
A recent news report out of suburban Detroit got our attention and raised a few obvious questions: What are personal flame throwers? Are they legal in Maine? Should they be?
Naturally, we decided to do some research (i.e., a few minutes googling the phrase online) to find out more about the contraptions, which have been on the market for only a few months. On Youtube, we found this video (and others) about one such flamethrower being manufactured & marketed by Ion Productions.
One sentence from the video about possible uses for the device leaped out at us: “Ion suggests melting snow, burning insects, and getting rid of garden weeds, to name of few.”
We have all those things in heavy supply in Maine, not to mention blueberry farms, which have long used controlled burns as a way to manage their fields. Given Maine’s vast rural expanses and its widespread support of individual liberties such as gun rights, flamethrowers seem like the kind of thing that could catch on here in the Pine Tree State.
But are they a good idea?
There are parts of Maine – the urban ones come to mind – where owning and possibly using a personal flamethrower would raise some obvious safety concerns. I live in a densely populated neighborhood in Ellsworth, for example, and am confident I would be a little worried if I saw someone on my street using a flamethrower to pop balloons in their yard (as demonstrated in this video).
So I called the State Fire Marshal’s Office to ask if they are legal and, if so, if their use or potential use might be setting off any alarms (so to speak) among public officials.
The answers I got were ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Mark Stevens, inspections supervisor for the fire marshal’s office, said personal flamethrowers are legal in Maine but, like any other incendiary device, there are state restrictions on how they can be used. There also could be additional federal restrictions that apply, he said.
Flamethrowers cannot be used near a large group of people, he said. If they are used for burning brush piles, he added, the user must have a valid burn permit from the local fire warden – same as if the pile is lit with a match.
Stevens said that there is nothing on the horizon that may affect current restrictions in Maine on personal flamethrowers. No bills have been introduced in the Legislature, he said, and no rule changes are in the works
“The actual possession of the device is not against state law,” Stevens said Monday. [Personal flamethrowers] haven’t turned up in Maine, as far as we know.”
If there are Maine residents out there who have and use a personal flamethrower like Ion’s XM42, I’d like to find out. I’m also curious about whether Mainers think there should or should not be additional restrictions.
What do you think?