Title:
Campfire safety apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The campfire safety apparatus shields people and animals from unintentional contact with a campfire. The apparatus encloses the fire ring of a campfire to protect potential burn victims from the flames or smoldering coals. The apparatus may be a single unitary unit for permanent installations or the apparatus may be constructed of a number of rigid interlocking safety panels joined together to create an apparatus that is portable. The top edge, or upper rail, of the apparatus is above the campfire flame height such that a child or adult cannot trip over the apparatus and fall into the fire ring. The interlocking rigid safety panels incorporate cooperating pin receivers that lock the panels together when a pin is inserted. In certain embodiments the pins extend through the cooperating pin receivers and terminate into the ground to anchor the apparatus and increase its ability to resist tipping over.



Inventors:
Grillot, Marion (Versailles, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/825037
Publication Date:
10/20/2005
Filing Date:
04/15/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24B1/192; F24C15/36; (IPC1-7): F24B1/192
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EARLY, MICHAEL JACOBY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAWSEY CO., L.P.A. (COLUMBUS, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A campfire safety apparatus for installation around a campfire fire ring creating a barrier shielding people and animals from unintentional contact with the campfire, comprising: at least one rigid safety panel having a lower rail, an upper rail, and a plurality of interconnected intermediate rails providing structural integrity and increasing the panel's effectiveness as a barrier, wherein the rigid safety panel encloses a campfire and the upper rail is above the campfire flame height.

2. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 1, wherein the free area ratio of the rigid safety panel is at least fifty percent.

3. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 1, wherein the free area ratio of the rigid safety panel is at least eight-five percent.

4. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 2, wherein the at least one rigid safety panel for enclosing a campfire consists of a plurality of portable interlocking rigid safety panels, each having a lower rail, an upper rail, a first sidewall rail having a pin receiver, and a second sidewall rail having a pin receiver, wherein the pin receivers on adjacent rigid safety panels cooperate to receive a pin, having a proximal end and a distal end, that releasably secures the adjacent panels together.

5. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 4, wherein the distal end of at least one of the pins extends through the cooperating pin receivers and terminates into the ground to anchor the apparatus.

6. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 5, further including an anchor on the distal end of at least one of the pins to facilitate easy ingress of the distal end into the ground, resist egress from the ground, and prevent rotation.

7. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 5, further including a screw on the distal end of at least one of the pins to facilitate easy ingress of the distal end into the ground and resist unintended egress from the ground.

8. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 4, wherein one of the portable interlocking rigid safety panels has an upper panel section and a lower panel section, the sections are rotably joined so that the upper panel section may rotate down about an intermediate hinge to permit greater access to the campfire fire ring and its contents, and having a retainer to secure the upper panel section in place when greater access is not required.

9. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 2, further including a rigid top panel having a perimeter rail and a plurality of interconnected intermediate rails, wherein the perimeter rail cooperates with the rigid safety panel upper rail to prevent unintentional contact with the campfire from above the upper rail.

10. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 2, further including a campfire accessory tool having a plurality of connection devices that cooperate with the rails of the rigid safety panel to releasably fasten the tool to the rigid safety panel.

11. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 2, further including a plurality of auxiliary supports to secure the apparatus to the campfire fire ring thereby further adding stability to the apparatus.

12. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 11, wherein the auxiliary supports have a telescoping rod with a distal end and a proximal end, a fire ring pad attached to the distal end to rigidly secure the support to the fire ring, and a panel interface at the proximal end to rigidly secure the support to the rigid safety panel.

13. A campfire safety apparatus for installation around a campfire fire ring creating a barrier shielding people and animals from unintentional contact with the campfire, comprising: a plurality of portable interlocking rigid safety panels, each having a lower rail, an upper rail, a first sidewall rail having a pin receiver, and a second sidewall rail having a pin receiver, wherein the pin receivers on adjacent rigid safety panels cooperate to receive a pin, having a proximal end and a distal end, that releasably secures the adjacent panels together, and a plurality of interconnected intermediate rails providing structural integrity and increasing the panels effectiveness as a barrier, while maintaining a free area ratio of the rigid safety panel of at least eighty-five percent, wherein the rigid safety panel encloses a campfire and the upper rail is above the campfire flame height.

14. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 13, wherein the distal end of at least one of the pins extends through the cooperating pin receivers and terminates into the ground to anchor the apparatus.

15. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 14, further including an anchor on the distal end of at least one of the pins to facilitate easy ingress of the distal end into the ground, resist egress from the ground, and prevent rotation.

16. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 14, further including a screw on the distal end of at least one of the pins to facilitate easy ingress of the distal end into the ground and resist unintended egress from the ground.

17. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 13, wherein one of the portable interlocking rigid safety panels has an upper panel section and a lower panel section, the sections are rotably joined so that the upper panel section may rotate down about an intermediate hinge to permit greater access to the campfire fire ring and its contents, and having a retainer to secure the upper panel section in place when greater access is not required.

18. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 13, further including a rigid top panel having a perimeter rail and a plurality of interconnected intermediate rails, wherein the perimeter rail cooperates with the rigid safety panel upper rail to prevent unintentional contact with the campfire from above the upper rail.

19. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 13, further including a campfire accessory tool having a plurality of connection devices that cooperate with the rails of the rigid safety panel to releasably fasten the tool to the rigid safety panel.

20. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 13, further including a plurality of auxiliary supports to secure the apparatus to the campfire fire ring thereby further adding stability to the apparatus.

21. The campfire safety apparatus of claim 20, wherein the auxiliary supports have a telescoping rod with a distal end and a proximal end, a fire ring pad attached to the distal end to rigidly secure the support to the fire ring, and a panel interface at the proximal end to rigidly secure the support to the rigid safety panel.

22. A campfire safety apparatus for installation around a campfire fire ring creating a barrier shielding people and animals from unintentional contact with the campfire, comprising: a plurality of portable interlocking rigid safety panels, each having a lower rail, an upper rail, a first sidewall rail having a pin receiver, and a second sidewall rail having a pin receiver, wherein the pin receivers on adjacent rigid safety panels cooperate to receive a pin, having a proximal end and a distal end, that releasably secures the adjacent panels together and terminates into the ground with an anchor to facilitate easy ingress of the distal end into the ground, resist egress from the ground, and prevent rotation, and a plurality of interconnected intermediate rails providing structural integrity and increasing the panels effectiveness as a barrier, while maintaining a free area ratio of the rigid safety panel of at least eighty-five percent, wherein the rigid safety panel encloses a campfire and the upper rail is above the campfire flame height.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to the field of campfires, in particular, to a safety apparatus for placement around a campfire so as to prevent accidental contact with the flames and high temperature embers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Campfire burns account for over 65% of all recreational burns in many areas of the country. Additionally, over 50% of such recreational burns are inflicted upon children. While many campfire burns are a result of direct contact with an open flame, an alarming number are the result of contact with smoldering embers. This is due to the fact that people are much more careful around an open flame than a pile of embers.

Adults and children seem to be drawn to open campfires. They are often mesmerized by the open flames and have a tendency to want to play with the fire by poking it, or adding fuel to the flames. Some of the dangers associated with campfires have been reduced through the wide-spread use of fire rings. Today, campfires are generally created within a fire ring which houses the logs, or other fuel, and a portion of the flames. Fire rings are generally made of steel and are 28″ to 34″ in diameter and 12″ to 18″ high. The prime benefit of creating a campfire within a fire ring is that the flames are restrained horizontally, thereby minimizing the likelihood of flames spreading and causing unintended fires.

Fire rings do however have some drawbacks. For instance, a camper cannot spread out the ashes and embers of a campfire that was created within a fire ring. Accordingly, the ashes and embers remain tightly confined in the fire ring and remain hot much longer than if even slightly spread about. Additionally, children often mistake fire rings filled with ashes for sandboxes. This is compounded by the fact that many campers use sand to extinguish their campfires. This practice actually permits the coals to burn for hours, further heightening the risk to children. Further, countless burns are the result of a camper contacting the metal structure of the fire ring because they failed to appreciate that the surface temperature of the fire ring is often several hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly, fire rings create a tripping hazard for the inattentive camper chasing a frisbee during the day or stumbling around the campsite after dark.

Campers currently lack the appropriate device to protect themselves from the dangers associated with fire rings, and their contents. Accordingly, the art has needed a campfire safety device that surrounds the campfire fire ring and prevents individuals and animals from unintentional contact with fire rings, and their contents.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

In its most general configuration, the present invention advances the state of the art with a variety of new capabilities and overcomes many of the shortcomings of prior devices in new and novel ways. In its most general sense, the present invention overcomes the shortcomings and limitations of the prior art in any of a number of generally effective configurations. The instant invention demonstrates such capabilities and overcomes many of the shortcomings of prior methods in new and novel ways.

The campfire safety apparatus of the present invention shields people and animals from unintentional contact with a campfire, or the products thereof. Generally, a campfire is created within a fire ring which constrains a plurality of logs, or other fuel, and a portion of the flames. The flames resulting from a campfire created within a fire ring are restrained horizontally and generally extend vertically less than 24″ from the top of the fire ring. Installation of the campfire safety apparatus around the fire ring creates an effective barrier for shielding potential burn victims from the flames or smoldering coals.

The entire apparatus may be a single unitary unit for permanent mounting around campsite fire rings, or the apparatus may be constructed of a number of rigid safety panels releasably joined together to create an apparatus that is portable for easy transport by weekend campers. One important attribute of the apparatus is that the top edge, or upper rail, is above the campfire flame height such that a child or adult cannot trip over the apparatus and fall into the fire ring. Additionally, the lower edge of the apparatus, or lower rail, of the rigid safety panel generally contacts the ground so that the apparatus serves as an effective barrier over its entire height.

The size and construction of the rails may vary with the particular application. For instance, permanent installations may utilize heavy gauge components, while portable embodiments incorporate lighter gauge components to minimize the weight of the panels. Rail spacing creating opening sizes of less than one square foot has been found to be particularly effective for portable embodiments. Such spacing allows easy access through the panels for cooking or rearranging the fuel, yet prevents adults, children, and animals from entry into the fire ring.

Portable embodiments include a plurality of portable interlocking rigid safety panels. Such interlocking rigid safety panels incorporate cooperating pin receivers that lock the panels together when a pin is inserted. In certain embodiments the pins extend through the cooperating pin receivers and terminate into the ground to anchor the apparatus and increase its ability to resist tipping over. Further embodiments incorporate specific devices to enhance the anchoring capabilities of the pin.

Additionally, any of the rigid safety panels may further include multiple sections to facilitate access to the fire ring for cooking, moving logs, or any number of other activities. Such multiple sections may be configured to rotate vertically, thereby creating a fold-down door, or horizontally, thereby creating a side-swinging door or gate. A further embodiment of the apparatus may include a rigid top panel to totally enclose the campfire. The campfire safety apparatus may also incorporate any number of campfire accessory tools that conveniently attach to the rigid safety panel. Such tools may include a prep table for preparing items for barbecuing, a hanger apparatus for holding cooking tools, log pokers, and any other tool that may be needed around a campfire. Additionally, the apparatus may incorporate auxiliary supports to secure the apparatus to the campfire fire ring and enhance the stability of the apparatus.

These variations, modifications, alternatives, and alterations of the various preferred embodiments may be used alone or in combination with one another as will become more readily apparent to those with skill in the art with reference to the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and the accompanying figures and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Without limiting the scope of the present invention as claimed below and referring now to the drawings and figures:

FIG. 1 shows an elevated perspective view of the apparatus, not to scale;

FIG. 2 shows an elevated perspective view of the apparatus, not to scale;

FIG. 3 shows an elevation view of the apparatus, not to scale;

FIG. 4 shows an elevated perspective view of an embodiment of the apparatus, not to scale;

FIG. 5 shows an elevated perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 4, not to scale;

FIG. 6 shows an elevated perspective view of an embodiment of the apparatus, not to scale;

FIG. 7 shows an elevated perspective view of an embodiment of the apparatus, not to scale; and

FIG. 8 shows an elevated perspective view of an embodiment of the apparatus, not to scale.

Also, in the various figures and drawings, the following reference symbols and letters are used to identify the various elements described herein below in connection with the several figures and illustrations: F, G, L, and R.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The campfire safety apparatus 50 of the instant invention enables a significant advance in the state of the art. The preferred embodiments of the apparatus 50 accomplish this by new and novel arrangements of elements and methods that are configured in unique and novel ways and which demonstrate previously unavailable but preferred and desirable capabilities. The detailed description set forth below in connection with the drawings is intended merely as a description of the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, and is not intended to represent the only form in which the present invention may be constructed or utilized. The description sets forth the designs, functions, means, and methods of implementing the invention in connection with the illustrated embodiments. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and features may be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of the invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, the campfire safety apparatus 50 of the present invention shields people and animals from unintentional contact with a campfire. Generally, a campfire is created within a fire ring R which constrains a plurality of logs L, or other fuel, and a portion of the flames F, as illustrated throughout. Fire rings R are generally 28″ to 34″ in diameter and 12″ to 18″ high. Fire rings R are commonly constructed of sections of 55 gallon drums. The flames F resulting from a campfire created within a fire ring R are restrained horizontally and extend vertically less than 24″ from the top of the fire ring R. Installation of the campfire safety apparatus 50 around the fire ring R creates an effective barrier for shielding potential victims from the flames F.

With reference now to FIG. 2, the campfire safety apparatus 50 may include at least one rigid safety panel 100 having a lower rail 110, an upper rail 120, and a plurality of interconnected intermediate rails 150. The entire apparatus 50 may be a single unitary unit for permanent mounting around campsite fire rings R, or the apparatus 50 may be constructed of a number of rigid safety panels 100 releasably joined together to create an apparatus 50 that is portable for easy transport by weekend campers. Similarly, the apparatus 50 may be virtually any geometric configuration including, but not limited to, the rectangular configuration of FIG. 2 or the circular configuration of FIG. 6. One important attribute of the apparatus 50 is that the upper rail 120 is above the campfire flame F height such that a child or adult cannot trip over the apparatus 50 and fall into the fire ring R. The height of the upper rail 120 above the open flame F, dimension 400 in FIG. 3, varies but experimentation has shown that an upper rail 120 height of approximately 36″ above the ground G ensures that the upper rail 120 is typically at least 12″ above the flames F.

The lower rail 110 of the rigid safety panel 100 generally contacts the ground G so that the apparatus 50 serves as an effective barrier over its entire height, from the lower rail 110 to the upper rail 120. The intermediate rails 150 provide structural integrity and increase the effectiveness of the panels 100 as a barrier. The intermediate rails 150 may be interconnected to further increase the strength and rigidity of the safety panel 100. Further, the spacing of the rails 110, 120, 130, 140, 150 may be uniform, variable, vertical and horizontal, or at an angle. For instance, the rails 110, 120, 130, 140, 150 may be close together nearer the lower rail 110 and gradually expand nearer the upper rail 120.

Similarly, the size and construction of the rails 110, 120, 130, 140 and intermediate rails 150 may vary with the particular application. For instance, permanent installations may utilize heavy gauge components, while portable embodiments incorporate lighter gauge components to minimize the weight of the panels 100. As such, a free area ratio of at least fifty percent has been found effective for permanent installation embodiments, while it may be desirable for portable embodiments to have a free area ratio of at least eighty-five percent. As used herein, the free area ratio is the ratio of unobstructed free area to the total area of the of the rigid safety panel 100. Experimentation has shown that a preferred construction for a portable embodiment consists of the use of ½″ diameter steel rod for the perimeter rail (lower 110, upper 120, first sidewall 130, second sidewall 140) and ¼″ diameter steel rod for the intermediate rails 150. Additionally, one with skill in the art will recognize that it may be preferable to finish the components with corrosion-resistant high-temperature paint. Further, rail spacing creating opening sizes of less than one square foot has been found to be particularly effective. Such spacing allows easy access through the panels 100 for cooking or rearranging the fuel, yet prevents adults, children, and animals from entry into the fire ring R.

Referring again to FIG. 2, in the embodiments having a plurality of portable interlocking rigid safety panels 100, each panel 100 has a lower rail 110, an upper rail 120, a first sidewall rail 130 having a pin receiver 132, and a second sidewall rail 140 having a pin receiver 142. The pin receivers 132, 142 on adjacent rigid safety panels 100 cooperate to receive a pin 200, having a proximal end 210 and a distal end 220 that releasably secures the adjacent panels 100 together. In one particularly effective and economical embodiment, the pin receivers 132, 142 are constructed of sections of ¼″ pipe.

In one embodiment the distal end 220 of at least one of the pins 200 extends through the cooperating pin receivers 132, 142 and terminates into the ground to anchor the apparatus 50, as seen in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3. Such anchoring increases the ability of the apparatus 50 to resist tipping over. Further embodiments incorporate specific devices to enhance the anchoring capabilities of the pin 200. One such device, illustrated in FIG. 5, incorporates an arrowhead shaped anchor 222 on the distal end 220 of at least one of the pins 200 to facilitate easy ingress of the distal end 220 into the ground, resist egress from the ground, and prevent rotation. An alternative embodiment, also shown in FIG. 5, includes a screw 224 on the distal end 220 of the pin 200 to facilitate easy ingress of the distal end 220 into the ground and resist unintended egress from the ground. The proximal end 210 of the pin 200 may include a stop 212 to prevent the pin 200 from sliding through the cooperating pin receivers 132, 142, as shown in FIG. 2. The stop 212 may be formed simply by bending the proximal end 210 of the pin so that it cannot pass through the pin receivers 132, 142, or incorporating a nut or washer at the proximal end 210.

Any of the portable interlocking rigid safety panels 100 may further include multiple sections to facilitate access to the fire ring R for cooking, moving logs L, or any number of other activities. One embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, incorporates an upper panel section 160 and a lower panel section 170. The sections 160, 170 are rotably joined at an intermediate rail 150 so that the upper panel section 160 may rotate down about an intermediate hinge 180 to permit greater access to the campfire fire ring R and its contents. This embodiment may also incorporate a retainer 190 to secure the upper panel section 160 in place when greater access is not required. The apparatus 50 may also incorporate embodiments having multiple panel sections that rotate horizontally rather than vertically, thereby creating a gate or door to the fire ring R.

A further embodiment of the apparatus 50 may include a rigid top panel 600 to totally enclose the campfire, as seen in FIG. 8. The rigid top panel 600 has a perimeter rail 610 and a plurality of interconnected intermediate rails 620, wherein the perimeter rail 610 cooperates with the rigid safety panel upper rail 120 to prevent unintentional contact with the campfire from above the upper rail 120. The top panel 600 may be connected to any of the rigid safety panels 100 via a hinge 630 so that the top panel 600 may be easily lifted and propped open when access to the fire ring R is necessary.

The campfire safety apparatus 50 may further include any number of campfire accessory tools 300 having a plurality of connection devices 310 that cooperate with the rails of the rigid safety panel 100 to releasably fasten the tool 300 to the rigid safety panel 100. Such tools 300 may include a prep table for preparing items for barbecuing, a hanger apparatus for holding cooking tools, log pokers, and any other tool that may be needed around a campfire. The prep table illustrated in FIG. 2 includes interlocking arms 312 to secure the table to the panel 100 and an angle support 314 to further stabilize the table.

To further increase the stability of the apparatus 50 it may incorporate auxiliary supports 500 to secure the apparatus 50 to the campfire fire ring R. The auxiliary supports 500 may incorporate a telescoping rod 510 with a distal end 512 and a proximal end 516, a fire ring pad 514 attached to the distal end to rigidly secure the support 500 to the fire ring R, and a panel interface 518 at the proximal end 516 to rigidly secure the support 500 to the rigid safety panel 100. The adjustability of the telescoping rod 510 permits the auxiliary support 500 to be used with fire rings R of different diameters.

Numerous alterations, modifications, and variations of the preferred embodiments disclosed herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art and they are all anticipated and contemplated to be within the spirit and scope of the instant invention. For example, although specific embodiments have been described in detail, those with skill in the art will understand that the preceding embodiments and variations can be modified to incorporate various types of substitute and or additional or alternative materials, relative arrangement of elements, and dimensional configurations. Accordingly, even though only few variations of the present invention are described herein, it is to be understood that the practice of such additional modifications and variations and the equivalents thereof, are within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the following claims. The corresponding structures, materials, acts, and equivalents of all means or step plus function elements in the claims below are intended to include any structure, material, or acts for performing the functions in combination with other claimed elements as specifically claimed.