Fire Challenge Burning Teens–CT Fire Chiefs Speak Out
MANCHESTER— Connecticut fire chiefs are trying to get the word out about a dangerous new activity that some teens are trying out.
Videos on YouTube are revealing a disturbing trend: the so-called fire challenge.
The “fire challenge” involves teenagers pouring an ignitable liquid, often rubbing alcohol, on their bare skin and then lighting themselves on fire. The photos and video taken by a witness are subsequently uploaded to various social media sites.
A safety alert originating from the New Jersey Office of the State Fire Marshal was circulated to the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association Monday.
“When young survivors are interviewed, most say they didn’t give much thought to the possibility of being injured or killed and they didn’t realize the fire would be so intense,” according to the New Jersey Office of the State Fire Marshal’s safety alert.
Manchester Fire Chief Billings wants to remind teenagers and parents that this stunt can be deadly. Billings says a myth that rubbing alcohol doesn’t cause skin to burn is entirely false.
“They end up thinking going to have a small, limited amount of flame on their bodies and in effect they end up being in a cloud of flammable vapors that do light off,” said Chief Billings.
Several teens across the U.S. have already been hurt, including a 15-year-old Kentucky boy who was badly burned. He discovered the stunt through Facebook.
Many of these reported incidents involve the ignitable liquid being poured on the chest.
“Emergency responders must particularly aware of the potential for serious respiratory burns when treating the victim,” according to the alert.
“As soon as they light that off they are now are breathing this high temperature gas and toxic fumes that immediately goes into their lungs,” Billings said.
Many people who spoke to FOX CT said they never heard of the “fire challenge.”
“I had no idea that this was even a thing people were doing know and it really freaks me out,” said Samantha Alberino of Cheshire.
“I feel it’s something normal people wouldn’t do,” said Abijaah Con, a West Hartford teenager. “They just feel like they’re cool for doing something that’s completely insane.”
Teenagers we spoke with couldn’t seem to justify why these kids would light themselves on fire, and neither could parents.
“Teenagers, kids when they want to be cool they cross a line,” said Bruce Beatt of Hartford. “Maybe years ago it was jumping into a quarry that was dangerous, driving cars too quickly, taking too many drugs, but this is certainly another trend that’s foolish.”
The Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association has not reported any cases in Connecticut relating to the fire challenge.
Chief David Billings has also reached out to the superintendent of the Manchester Public Schools to help spread the message to students and parents.