Fire Safety Versus Clean Air

By: Delores Gempel Lekowski


Would you risk a 3rd degree burn for clean air? Should we disregard fire prevention in order to meet the clean air standards? The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seem to think their goals are more important then our safety and believe that the dangers of fire and burns would be a small price to pay for clean air.

To cut down on small engine pollution CARB and the EPA will require all off-road engines with 50 or less horse power to have catalytic converters, this will include lawnmowers, weed whackers, chain saws, leaf blowers, generators and small boat engines. If grass ignites at 518 degrees Fahrenheit and catalytic converters can get to 1,151 degrees Fahrenheit, doesn't common sense tell us to keep catalytic converters off the grass? And who in their right mind would want to hold something in their hands that is 1,151 degrees hot?

Fires have been reported when cars with hot catalytic converters parked on the grass or leaves, if this could happen from parking a car on the grass, think about what could happen when you run a lawn mower over dry grass and with your legs and arms only inches away from this tremendous heat. I guess after this takes effect we better watch where we park our lawn mowers, gone will be the days when you could just roll it into the garage and forget about it.

What could they possible be thinking? It seems to be a "take your chances so you can breath deeply," mentality. It doesn't matter how we meet the clean air standards just so we meet them.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am 100% behind fighting for clean air, but I am not willing to take this risk and we shouldn't be forced to take it. The price is too high. While we all have the right to clean air we also have the right to be protected from harm or death, trading one for the other is never an option nor should it be.

The list of those who are concerned about this addition to the Clean Air Act is compelling and will lead one to believe that this is not a positive step towards clean air but a dangerous trade off.

Below are some of the groups or individuals who oppose the catalytic converters for small engines. It is their consensus that CARB failed to provide evidence that the small engine converters would not pose a fire hazard.

   1-National Association of State Fire Marshals
   2-Consumer Products Safety Commission
   3-Missouri State Fire Marshal
   4-National Marine Manufactures Association
   5-Senator Christopher S. Bond R-MO
   6-California Fire Chiefs
   7-California State Fire Marshals

You may read more about this and Senator Bond's objections at the, "Project Vote Smart," web site. Here, his views are compelling and as with all of those who have fire safety concerns about small engine catalytic converters, he brings up their very valid points.

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