Suffolk County Legislature Bans Gel Candles

The law was enacted after a Riverhead boy was severely burned.

The Suffolk County Legislature gave a Riverhead burn victim a special kind of birthday present on Tuesday when it passed "Michael's Law," which bans the sale of gel candles in Suffolk County.

The proposal was inspired by Michael Hubbard, a Riverhead boy who was . Tuesday was his 15th birthday.

Hubbard was refueling a gel candle on May 28 when the decoration exploded, burning 40 percent of his body including his face, chest and arms. Hubbard remains in a coma from the accident.

The law bans the sale of semi-solid, ethanol-based gel, often used as fuel in gel candles. The ban passed by a 18-0 vote, with no debate or opposition to the bill. 

Bill Faulk, an aide to County Legis. Ed Romaine, R-Center Moriches, said it was important to get the dangerous product off the shelves quickly.

"We wanted to protect other families in Suffolk County so they wouldn't have to face the tragedy that Michael's family has dealt with," Faulk said. 

Romaine and others acted within days of the incident to create the law, Faulk said, and have spent the past few months tweaking the bill.

Hubbard's family were in attendance at the time and spoke to the Legislature. Fran Reyer-Johnson, Michael's aunt, thanked Romaine and all of the legislators for passing the bill on a website devoted to Michael's recovery. 

"Maybe the entire state will ban these candles, and then maybe the nation," she said. "Happy Birthday Michael - We love you."

Tom Gillen August 17, 2011 at 08:32 PM
So sorry this happened to your cousin, Kimberly. This stuff was flat out dangerous - it's basically over the counter Nepalm. Even the National Fire Protection Association has come out and denounced this product - when you "stop, drop, and roll" with this product you don't put the fire out, you actually spread the gel and the fire by doing so....making a bad situation worse and making the job of firefighters that much more difficult. I'm hopeful this legislation will be signed by Steve Levy ASAP. Regards, Tom
Mark Wilson August 17, 2011 at 08:33 PM
"David D'Agostino 4:16pm on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Mr. Wilson's assertion that I work for Ed Romaine is typical of the infantile sniping displayed in most of his posts. To Andrea, you are using this story to make a point about a larger issue of "big government." I have the feeling you would attempt to make any article on safety legislation fit your ideology. To infer that this legislation "takes away liberties" is the absolute height of absurdity unless the liberty you are trying to protect is the company's right to market a novelty product that could kill a child." This has been a paid political announcement for the FRIENDS OF ED ROMAINE.
Tom Gillen August 18, 2011 at 12:30 AM
This product was recalled by the manufacturer because it was malfunctioning. A 27yr old guy from NYC was injured in a separate incident, and I believe over 30 cases nationwide. The fact that it was recalled says it all for me. Just my .02
Kimberly Reyer August 18, 2011 at 01:45 AM
@glenn, my aunt was standing right next to michael when it exploded. Listen up people..... parental supervision was not the fact! The fact is that this "bomb in a bottle was a dangerous item on the market. Since the recall, some stores are still selling it. By putting a law into effect it will now make the store owners more accountable since the manufacturer filed for bankrupcy..... bottom line is our family does not want any other family to go through this!!!
East N'ptr August 18, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Wow, I just read this thread and it's really sad. Not only because of the tragedy to this young man but because of the people here who put politics above the well-being of their fellow man (and children). It's just common sense to try to avoid another tragic accident like this. My heart and prayers go out to Michael and his family.
Andrea August 18, 2011 at 01:07 PM
You're absolutely right in many of your points. It is tragic, it should be prevented and we should all care for our each other's well being. However, I think its unfair to categorize anyone who questions this as being solely "political" (which is a blanket term that is often unfairly applied when someone disagree with legislation, etc.). Here's the thing - as far as I can tell, the product was defective. Whether it was a 14 year old or an adult, it was far too easy to use this product the wrong way (either because it was too difficult to tell if it was still lit or because the refueling mechanism didn't have adequate safety measures to prevent the fire from igniting the contents of the container). Therefore, it was recalled. The Consumer Protection Agency is also very involved in this. That is the way it should be. What I have an issue with is this legislation. I don't think applauding Suffolk County makes sense - far too many larger safety and health risks go without them getting involved - I think they jumped on a relatively easy emotional and sentimental story to gain positive coverage. It has nothing to do with their politcal parties or anything else of the sort. Who would oppose banning a candle under the circumstances? Does anyone really care that they can't buy that candle anymore? No! But Suffolk banned an entire substance, not just a defective product. And I want to know why. Is that really too political? To question the decisions of our government?
Tom Gillen August 18, 2011 at 01:19 PM
You keep bringing up these other safety and health risks out there, and what I want to know is what that has to do at all with THIS product? Or gel products like THIS one? The county obviously felt that if this product would malfunction, similiar gel products would malfunction too. There have been multiple candle gel recalls over the years by Glade, Citronella, Johnson & Johnson, etc. I say go buy a regular wick candle and call it a day. I mean ok - so there are other harmful things out there in the world that the county hasn't banned.....does that mean products like this one should not have been banned? Does that make THIS type of product any less of a priority? Earlier you referenced smoking and fast food - the risks that come with those products are well documented and well known. And until a cheeseburger blows up in someone's backyard, or Marlboro recalls their cigarettes, I'm of the opinion that it's apples to oranges to compare them with this gel product. Burgers and cigarettes do exactly what they are supposed to do....harm your body. Let's say someone close to you was injured by this Citronella brand gel candle, and Citronella ended up recalling it. Would you feel comfortable buying a similar product from the shelf made by another manufacturer? I know what my answer is
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 01:53 PM
WHERE were the regulatory agencies, charged with responsibility over these products? I believe I read somewhere, the manufacturer here had around 27 complaints about this product. IF "Government" is the answer to solve this problem, and there are local, State and Federal agencies charged with jurisdiction over these products, where were they ?
Tom Gillen August 18, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Where are you trying to go with this?
Andrea August 18, 2011 at 02:04 PM
My point is simple - it's not Suffolk County that should be banning it - unless they're going to get in the business of working to ban all things that pose a risk to our health and safety. There are agencies and governing bodies that are responsible for this - and are taking care of it. And your point doesn't make a ton of sense. If a product is recalled, its defective. So a Toyota gets recalled - is a Honda a similar enough product? Did you give up your cars because some have been recalled? And those gel candles you're taking about are different than this ethanol-based gel too. Apples, Oranges, Pears... and so on. If a product gets recalled, no problem. But I would like the data that went into the decision to ban a substance across the board - not just the defective products themselves. I'm sorry you don't wish to know more about why legislation is passed and the information that goes into it.
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Government, including Ed Romaine and ALL the regulations and warnings on packages in the world, can't substitute for the presence or absence of "Common Sense"....you know, uhhhhhhhh, what's that concept,,,,personal responsibility ? We have seemed to have lost that concept, these days, and have just thrown our collective hands up in the air, wandering around not knowing what to do with the everyday situations in our lives. Politicians like Ed Romaine can't be around to put a band-aid on our boo-boo's....and you really don't want them to. And it's just SURRENDERING of Individual Freedom to Government, expecting them to do so. HOW ? This is how Tyranny starts....with little steps, and little surrenders.
Tom Gillen August 18, 2011 at 02:12 PM
So in your eyes this product should not have been banned. Gotcha. Have a great day and BE SAFE OUT THERE.
Tom Gillen August 18, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Andrea August 18, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Also, Tom, just so you're aware - ethanol-based gel has many purposes outside of these "candles". I worked around them for years - ever heard of a Sterno? But those are now banned in Suffolk County - even though they're used all over the country for warming foods, keeping buffets going, fondue pots, etc... They don't "explode" though I suppose if you blatantly misused it, they could. But so could a gas can you use to refuel your lawnmower. So in my eyes, the DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS should be banned - not a substance that has been used in other ways w/o problems!
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 02:18 PM
IF these "Big Government" supporters believe that Government should be stopping things like this from happening, where were they ?
Tom Gillen August 18, 2011 at 02:23 PM
fantastic. the County Legislature voted 18-0 so perhaps a call to your representative is in order. have a nice day
Andrea August 18, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Honestly Tom, I don't get why it's so hard to understand why someone would agree with recalling/removing/banning (whatever word) a defective product (or hey, even a defective product category - like all candles or all cars) but wouldn't agree with banning a substance that has other uses that are perfectly safe and reasonable. But you have a great day too.
Frank Mercuri August 18, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Ladies and gentlemen. let's refresh the consitution. It is a document for the United States united is the word. This is fall are on the same page. However it does have states rights. These rights trickle down to local governments. The feds cannot do everything. having been a small part of the feds, Local govermnents do the nitty gritty. To monitor everything by federal government is a monumental task and many can be injured ar die before action is taken plus it takes away the liberty of the states rights. Suffolk County regardless of who is or was in charge has always championed the irradication of danger to its citizens. From protection of our enviornment to the gel candles it is for the betterment of us all. As I said earlier if there is a libery that is affected then take action. Federal can get involved when a local government takes action and the feds then can pick up the ball and look into the matter for country wide bannuing. There has to be some logic. A person was injured, an item was found dangerous, it was banned, next case.
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 02:42 PM
The United States Constitution is just FINE, Thank you ! This instance proves the recent data that shows New York State is one of the most regulated States in the Union... http://mercatus.org/freedom-50-states-2011
Tom Gillen August 18, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Oh cmon Frank, quit being reasonable and making so much sense! lol
Andrea August 18, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Frank makes perfect sense (no sarcasm). Except Suffolk didn't just ban the dangerous item - they banned a lot more than that.
Frank Mercuri August 18, 2011 at 03:12 PM
It is fine and I took an oath to protect it. States do have rights. If NY is the most regulated state what do these regulations pertain to? Living in New York all my life and travled to most of the states in our union, I have no problem with NY. There are no barriers stopping me to travel through NY state or all of them. I suggest you travel to all our staes and then come back and see what NY really is and Suffolk County especially. I do not agree with all that NY does There are times for actions to take place. Would you like to live in Texas? It is the most pollutted state in the union as is a good portion of the Gulf states. If there are regulations you do not agree with then cite them and lets all get to know what they are and if they are bad then we will petition our elected representstives to repeal them. I mean it let us know what they are.
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Also, it would be nice to know WHAT qualifications and experience Ed Romaine and the County Legislature has with product liability law, and product liability in general, to make this law ? What is legal jurisdiction Ed Romaine and the County Legislature has to make laws like this ? Is this law constitutional and legal ? Can Ed Romaine draw up a law like this and legally ban products, in general ? Or is it just a nice gesture...a nice thing to do ? OOops, asking too many questions I guess....we should just all accept what Ed Romaine and the County Legislature knows about this subject, shouldn't we ? I mean they wouldn't do anything illegal or unconstitutional would they ?
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 03:28 PM
The link to the study is above.
Frank Mercuri August 18, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I saw the link and the standings. Why should I research it . Your so concerned about Ny being over regulated. Sure there are a lot of regulation many affecting businesses. I care less about the politics. If you do not care about the gel candle law then go to your rep and tell him so and petition if you get no where. Have you been to New Hampshire ( love the state my daughter has a summer cottage at Hamton beach ) but they live up to be free or die. Have you bben to South Dakota, or any of the top 20 states? If you see some of these states you will know why regulation is low.As I said the Gulf states ( oil and refineries) may be the least regulaed but highly polluted. Oklahoma and Kansas, lots of open space. It takes a while to drive through them. Everything has to be relative to something and you will note that the states with the most regularion are the most populated with some exceptions like Alaska>
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 04:25 PM
My Suffolk County legislator is too busy working with my Town Board councilperson helping "developers", turn over socalled "preservation" properties into commercial properties, for mutual profit. Otherwise, I'd contact them.
majortom1981 August 18, 2011 at 08:20 PM
UM did you even READ the article. They did step in by BANNING it in Suffolk county.
Mark Wilson August 18, 2011 at 08:35 PM
"majortom1981 4:20pm on Thursday, August 18, 2011 UM did you even READ the article. They did step in by BANNING it in Suffolk county." GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM, UM......For sure !
Chez November 08, 2011 at 12:42 AM
I do not know this young man, or his family, but he has been severely injured in an accident at home, and I think some respect and consideration should be shown to him, his family and friends, instead of disagreeing as to whether this product should be banned or not.
Penny Benbenek November 08, 2011 at 02:30 AM
84 comments & counting - wow Mister I Post Every Other Comment, you should be proud...this must be a new record for you, in keeping the jabs & low blows & general negativity flowing. The fact is, a young man was severely injured & in serious condition. But this fact is lost on you as you completely bypass his family members & totally discount Michael's and their pain & irretrievably changed lives. So bent on seeing your own opinions and harangues against Ed Romaine or whomever you choose to bully on any given day. We get it already. Maybe you should write to Ed Romaine directly? Just a thought. Getting back on track... God Bless young Michael and his family as they all try to recover from this horrible accident. We've done enough "nothing" to last a lifetime...someone had to stand up & try to make sure no one else gets hurt from these home made IEDs.


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