Stop This Poorly Written California Flamethrower Bill

Write your California Assemblyman to stop a bad flame effects bill from becoming law.

In brief: In response to Elon Musk selling a flame thrower (actually, not really, it’s more of a big propane torch), a California assemblyman wrote a bill to “stop all that nonsense”. But it doesn’t even do that. It just… well read my letter to my assemblymember! Then find your assemblymember at the link below, copy, paste, edit for yourself and send a letter! Personal grudges and headline grabbing are not valid reasons for enacting law!!!

Here is the text of the bill
AB-1949 Explosives: flamethrowing devices.(2017-2018)

Find your assemblyman and write to them!
or here:


To the Honorable Assembly Member Tony Thurmond, / To the Honorable Senator Nancy Skinner,

I would like to voice my opposition to AB-1949 “Explosives: Flamethrowing Devices”.

Flamethrowing device regulations exist to allow people to create safe flame devices for artistic and industrial purposes while limiting the potential danger to people due to poorly created or malicious purposes.

The existing laws and fire codes regarding flamethrowing devices are perfectly adequate and does their job well, being enforced by police and fire departments in the state.

AB-1949 aims to add a layer of complexity to how flamethrowing devices are regulated in the state of California. The purpose of the bill as explicitly stated by the author is to regulate how Elon Musk (Tesla, Space-X…) can market and sell his flame throwing devices. However, the actual text of the bill as originally written and as revised would not affect Mr. Musk’s operation except, literally, to add a one-part untrue, one-part redundant warning sticker to the devices he sells. (In the bill, Musk’s device is a “Tier II device”)

The other half of the bill (“Tier I flamethowing devices”) would make it much more difficult and expensive to create larger flame throwing devices without increasing safety in any way over the current laws and regulations.

We are already protected at the state level by Sections 12750, 12755, 12756, 12757, and 12761 of the Health and Safety Code. We are protected by fire codes NFPA-160 (National Fire Protection Association): Standard for Flame Effects Before an Audience, NFPA-58:LP gas code, and NFPA-54: National fuel gas code.

I have been teaching flame effects for 9 years at The Crucible in Oakland CA, a 501(c)(3) industrial arts education center. And I have an ongoing connection with flame effects experts in California, with the Nevada LP Gas Board, and the Burning Man organization.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have about this issue.

Thank you,
Lee Sonko OTR/L

Do you want another perspective? Here is a letter from Lucy Hosking to her assemblymember:

Dear Assemblyman Stone,

I am writing to urge you to withdraw your support for and fight against AB-1949.

This is a bad law, it was introduced as a vanity project, it actually fails to regulate the one device that provoked its creation. It will seriously harm the community of responsible Fire Art and Theatrical Flame Effect practitioners throughout the State.

The proposed law is redundant against long established codes, especially National Fire Prevention Association publication #160, “Flame Effects Before a Live Audience”, and in its wording, it appears to be unaware of the existence of these regulations.

All exhibitions and performances of this art are built and operated in strict accordance with NFPA-160, and are subject to the explicit inspection and approval of local Fire Marshals and CalFire personnel. These regulations are extensive and complete. Our safety record speaks for itself: in 20 years, I am unaware of any accident or incident where a person was injured or property was damaged by any practitioner or legitimate device.

The worst part of AB-1949 is that it attempts to conflate these theatrical and artistic devices with weapons of war. This indicates the complete failure of the authors to understand what they are regulating. As an active artist, I see the joy and wonder these things bring to society, especially to children.

I have worked, performed, and built effects in the Fire Art community for 20 years, and my work has a reputation for being some of the best in the field, so I can speak from experience in this. Mr. Santiago has no such experience and no such expertise and is not a reliable source of information on the subject.

Please contact me by email or telephone and I can answer any questions you may have.

Please come to the UnScruz event at Santa Cruz Co. Fairgrounds on May 4,5 & 6 to see it in real life. Bring your family, the kids will love it. I’ve put you on the guest list.

And please, vote this down!

Lucy Hosking

(Read my previous post “Megan’s Law Wouldn’t Have Saved Megan”).

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