BANGOR – Bangor Fire Department personnel cooked a scrambled egg Thursday morning using a halogen torchiere lamp. Then they spent time burning cloth and paper plates.
All this was to demonstrate how dangerous the halogen lamps could be, said Jason Johnson, public education officer for the Fire Department.
“It took about 25 seconds [for the cloth] to start smoking and about 50 seconds for it to burst into flames,” he said. “The paper plate went up in about 10 seconds. We generally don’t try and start fires, so it was pretty impressive. We’ve had fires in the past that have been caused by those [lamps].”
Halogen torchiere floor lamps are freestanding lamps with a shallow bowl-shaped light fixture mounted on top of a 6-foot pole and illuminated by a tubular halogen bulb. The bulb in a halogen torchiere burns between 700 and 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to boil water.
The firefighters did the demonstration as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Change A Light, Change the World program, which encourages people to switch to efficient Energy Star lighting.
“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is aware of at least 189 fires and 11 deaths since 1992 involving halogen torchiere floor lamps,” the CPSC Web site states. “These lamps first became available in the United States in 1983 and sales have grown significantly in the 1990s. The tubular halogen bulbs operate at temperatures much hotter than regular bulbs and can pose a fire risk if curtains, clothing or other flammable materials contact the bulb.”
Maine State Fire Marshal John Dean, Bangor Assistant Fire Chief Richard Cheverie and Wendy Reed of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were on hand at the Bangor firefighters’ demonstration.
The event also kicked off Maine’s first ever Torchiere Turn In Event.
“There is now a cool-operating, energy-efficient alternative to be found in torchiere lamps,” the Efficiency Maine Web site states. “From now until Oct. 31 Maine residents can turn in their used halogen torchiere at a participating retailer and receive a $20 instant rebate to apply towards the purchase of a new Energy Star qualified torchiere.”
The Energy Star qualified torchiere will cost consumers around $51 compared to the $35 average cost for a halogen lamp. However, based on four hours of use per day, with 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, the energy cost for the Energy Star lamp is $46 per year compared to the halogen’s $128, the Efficiency Maine Web site states.
Efficiency Maine is a statewide effort to promote more efficient use of electricity, reducing energy costs for residents and businesses and improve Maine’s environment. The organization is funded by electricity consumers and administered by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Anyone who wants to find out more about the Torchiere Turn In Event or who wants a list of participating retailers can call 1-866-ESMAINE (376-2463) or visit www.efficiency-maine.com.