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Saugus stuntman planning record-breaking firewalk

Posted: May 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.

In this 2011 photo, after being set on fire in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest full-body burn without oxygen, Jayson Dumenigo, 31, walks in the parking lot of his business Action Factory in Canyon Country.

Three years ago, Saugus stuntman Jayson Dumenigo set the world record for being on fire for the longest period of time — and surviving.

In November, however, a European stuntman named Josef Todtling, who had grilled Dumenigo online about his fire-enduring techniques, broke Dumenigo’s record — by 15 seconds — for the longest full-body burn without oxygen.

“Now we want to take the record back so it can’t be broken again,” Dumenigo said recently from his office on Ruether Avenue. “I’m confident we’re going to get the record back.”

During his record-breaking five minutes and 26 seconds on fire in 2011, Dumenigo — a trained stunt professional who warns no one should try what he tried — learned a few things he hopeswill help him regain the record taken by an Austrian stunt man in November.

Dumenigo runs his own company called Action Factory, which sells fire-retardant clothing and gels to professional stunt people.

Without giving away his trade secrets, Dumenigo said one of the improvements expected in his upcoming bid to reclaim the world record involves how flammable fluid is applied to his fire retardant suit during his fire walk.

What he discovered while breaking the record in 2011, he said, was that the flames were not uniform during that attempt due to diminished pressure inside the hand-held pump-action spray tanks used to douse him with flammable fluid.

Diminished pressure means diminished flames, and diminished flames could mean the difference between breaking the world record or not. Standards are set for record-breaking attempts, and in the case of being on fire, the standard calls for flames to be above the entrants’ head at all times.

Dumenigo plans to use tanks that dispense an even spray applied with uniform pressure. He also plans to double the size of his team, adding more crew members to douse him with flammable fluid.

He discovered during his 2011 bid that his “sprayers” quickly grew tired in their efforts to keep pumping spray from their tanks, creating an uneven disbursement of fluid.

Dumenigo told The Signal that he learns something about enduring fire each time he’s set ablaze. He expects to attempt to reclaim his world record in August.

Fire walk

On March 27, 2011, in the parking lot of an industrial row on Santa Clara Street in Canyon Country, a crowd of about 40 friends, family members and stunt professionals formed a circle in front of Action Factory’s garage.

Dumenigo emerged from the tarp — his entire body covered with a protective fire-resistant gel, wearing two layers of fire-retardant clothing — and walked straight-legged to the center of the parking lot.

A crew member with a pail and a paintbrush coated him head to toe with a kerosene-type fuel.

When the painter finished and backed away, a crew member with a welding torch took his place.

Two others with fire extinguishers stood nearby.

The man with the torch set fire to Dumenigo’s lower left leg and, within a couple of seconds, his entire body was ablaze.

The five and a half minutes that followed put Dumenigo on the map with a new world record — until November when the Austrian stuntman set a new record at five minutes and 41 seconds.

Dumenigo plans to stay on fire for at least eight minutes this time, as he had initially planned to do in 2011.

“He asked me questions about the burn,” Dumenigo said, recalling the online discussion he had with his European counterpart.

“Now we’ve come to a bit a competition between us,” he said.

The last time he broke the world record he had applied to Guinness World Records Ltd. in London for the rules on validating world records. The documenting and validation process takes months to complete.

In an effort to shorten that record-setting time, Dumenigo could pay for a Guinness adjudicator to visit the Santa Clarita Valley and witness the record-breaking first hand, but that is an expensive option, he said.

One mile

Nevertheless, Dumenigo remains committed to reclaiming the record with his eye on an even bigger and hotter prize.

“I want to walk a mile on fire,” he said, noting he plans to be on fire for 21 minutes. “No one has ever walked a complete mile on fire.

“Why do I want to do it? Why do they want to climb Mt. Everest?”
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