WSAW: Fire Chief continues fight for novelty lighter law

By Brian Will, WSAW

PITTSVILLE, Wis. (WSAW) -- Majority of fires caused by children are started by a lighter and a lot of those lighters can look like toys.

Fire Chief Jerry Minor from the Pittsville Fire Company has been on a mission for the past 11 years. He was inspired by his granddaughter. "She said very boldly grandpa you need to make a law," said Minor.

The law would restrict novelty lighters from being displayed out front in retail spaces and would also prevent minors from buying them. "One is a lighter and one is a toy but to a five year old they both look like toys," said Minor.

It's been a struggle to get this passed into law. "We've been so close so many times there is a variety of reasons why it didn't pass and most of it out of our control each time it doesn't pass we have to reinvent the wheel," explained Minor.

"That's one of the challenges of legislation. If they don't pass the first time or the second time it gets into category of let's just not do it anymore. But that doesn't make this any less important," said Republican Representative Scott Krug, of the 72nd Assembly District.

"We have to really push to get it to committee vote and get it on the floor. Since there are a limited amount votes until the next year," said Democratic Representative Katrina Shankland, of the 71st Assembly District.

Lawmakers added while a lot more of these types of products are behind the counter now, passing this as a law would close that loophole and hopefully save lives.

After all these years Chief Minor still holds out hope, "We got to get through the hearings and if we get to the floor we will be standing there in the room. I really hope this comes through this year it has been a long fight."

More than a dozen states have passed similar laws. The next step is for the bill to go to the Executive Committee where it has to get approved to go to the Assembly floor.