Since 2010, there have been at least 113 reported incidents in Australia involving decorative alcohol fuelled devices.
These incidents have resulted in 105 injuries and 36 house fires.
Decorative alcohol fuelled devices are also known as ethanol burners, ethanol fireplaces or bio-ethanol fireplaces.
In March a national interim ban was placed on some of these devices, and that was replaced in mid July with a mandatory standard.
If you have one of these devices you need to check it meets the new standard; if it doesn't you may be able to get a refund.
According to NSW Fair Trading, these devices are especially dangerous when they are being refuelled.
When the fuel is low, the flame can appear blue or clear, making it difficult to see.
Refuelling when a flame is present or the device is still warm can lead to an explosion.
There is also a risk of the device being knocked over by children or pets and causing serious burns to people nearby as well as damage to property.
The fuel used is typically ethanol in a liquid form or (less commonly) gel form.
The most common form is methylated spirits (ethanol and around 10 per cent methanol) which may also be marketed as bio-ethanol or eco-fuel.
The mandatory standard requires decorative alcohol fuelled devices to:
- be a permanent fixture or have a dry weight of at least eight kilograms and a footprint of at least 900 square centimetres;
- meet the stability test set out in the European standard; and
- come with a fuel container with a flame arrester or an automatic fuel pump system
- have the prescribed warning.
From mid October 2017 suppliers must comply with the mandatory standard.
If you have a decorative alcohol-fuelled device you should check with the supplier that the device complies with the new safety standard.
If you bought it before March it probably won’t comply, so you should return the item to the seller with proof of purchase for a refund.
- Details about the safety standard and consumer rights: productsafety.gov.au/standards/decorative-alcohol-fuelled-devices.