The North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center actively participates in efforts to create national and statewide legislation to increase fire and burn prevention. Faculty and staff at the Burn Center provide research, expert testimonials and lobby for new legislation. Over the years, the Burn Center has been integral in helping increase fire safety through legislation.

Current legislative efforts

Limit Toxic Flame Retardents Containing PBDEs

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) are a class of highly efficient brominated flame retardant, but they are also linked to numerous negative health impacts in humans. Children’s exposure to PBDEs is greater than that of adults, primarily through breast milk and house dust. The North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center supports the banning of PBDEs because there are other widely available flame retardants that do not pose such health threats.

Past legislative successes

Pyrotechnics Safety Permitting Act

Signed into law on August 26, 2009, by Gov. Beverly Perdue, this act made important safety provisions regarding the display of pyrotechnics (fireworks). The law made clear that the manufacture, sale and use of fireworks in North Carolina is prohibited except for public exhibitions, when a permit is required. It made the sale of fireworks to all persons under the age of 16 prohibited. Firework safety came into the spotlight during the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center’s work with survivors of the deadly Ocracoke Island explosion in July 2009.

Prohibit Sale of Novelty Lighters

Signed into law on June 30, 2009, by Gov. Beverly Perdue, this made it a Class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina to sell a novelty lighter. Novelty lighters are cigarette, cigar or pipe lighters that are designed to resemble a cartoon character, toy, gun, watch, musical instrument, vehicle, animal, food or beverage, or similar articles, or that plays musical notes. These lighters are especially dangerous for children, who may perceive them as toys. The North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center worked along with the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force to pass this law.

Fire-Safe Cigarette Act

Signed into law on August 24, 2007, by Gov. Mike Easley, this required tobacco companies to sell only “fire-safe” versions of their cigarettes in North Carolina beginning on January 1, 2010. This means that cigarettes must be self-extinguishing, reducing the number of smoking-related fires and home-fire deaths. Cigarettes are the leading cause of deaths from fires in North Carolina, and it is estimated that fire-safe cigarettes could save as many as 50 lives each year. The Burn Center’s Ernest Grant headed the effort to pass this law as the leader of the North Carolina Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes.

Water Heater Thermostat Settings

In 1989, the Burn Center’s Ernest Grant successfully lobbied the General Assembly to pass a bill requiring that all water heaters in North Carolina be preset at no greater than 120 degrees. Hot water in the home can be especially hazardous to small children and the elderly. This law makes it less likely that severe burns will occur.