Back in February, when I first read headlines that The Boring Company, which is run by high-profile California businessman Elon Musk, was selling flamethrowers to anyone who could fork over $500, I sent my colleagues at NFPA Journal an email about it. "Seems highly dangerous," I wrote. I was honestly surprised that a company could be doing this.
Then I spoke with a Boring Company representative and learned that selling devices like this is perfectly legal in 49 states. Not only that, but in 48 of those states it's also legal to sell devices capable of shooting flames much farther than the Musk device can. A Google search revealed that what Musk's company was selling—a gun-shaped device that emits a roughly two-foot flame—looks tame compared to others that are for sale online. One company from Arizona, for example, sells flamethrowers that can shoot a stream of burning liquid up to 30 feet.
Still, the Musk flamethrowers ruffled feathers and drew criticism from some people in California, which experienced its deadliest wildfires ever in recent months. Read my article about the controversial business move in "'A Super Terrible Idea'"—Musk's words, not mine—in the new edition of NFPA Journal.