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Decorative alcohol fuelled devices 

National interim ban 

A national interim ban on certain decorative alcohol fuelled devices has been imposed from 17 March 2017, for 60 days. You can read more about the national interim ban and subscribe to receive email updates on the Product Safety Australia website.

As a result of the interim ban, these devices cannot be offered for sale.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, an interim ban can be imposed if a reasonably foreseeable use (or misuse) of a consumer good will or may cause injury to any person.

The NSW interim ban on decorative alcohol fuelled burners that was in force from 21 December 2016 lapses on 21 March 2017.

You can download and read the NSW Imposition of interim ban on Decorative alcohol fuelled burners (PDF size: 46.5KB) here. 

You can download and read the NSW Extension of the interim ban on decorative alcohol fuelled burners (PDF size: 261KB) here.

Alcohol fuelled device     Alcohol fuelled device    Alcohol fuelled device

The devices are primarily decorative but are also sold for heating and display purposes. The fuel is typically ethanol in liquid 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. 

Between 2010 and December 2016, there had been 113 reported injuries and 115 fire incidents. In October 2016, a 28 year old Perth woman suffered serious burns to her face and upper body after an ethanol burner exploded in the backyard of a Safety Bay home. This was closely followed by two people being injured on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in an ethanol burner accident.

These devices are especially dangerous when they are being re-fuelled. When the fuel is low, the flame can appear blue or clear, making it difficult to see. Re-fuelling 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.

Frequently asked questions

Information for traders 

As a result of this ban, these burners cannot be offered for sale across Australia.

Retailers and online traders based in Australia must cease sales immediately and remove the banned products from shelves or delete them from online catalogues. Non-compliance with a ban can attract a monetary penalty of up to $220,000 for individuals and $1.1 million for corporations.

The interim ban only affects certain portable (or table-top) devices designed for domestic use producing a flame using alcohol as fuel.

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Information for consumers 

If you have an alcohol fuelled device in your home affected by the national interim ban, you should stop using it immediately. In most cases, if these products are determined to be unsafe and are permanently banned, they will be able to be returned to the retailer for a full refund.

Watch the Don’t fuel the fire – ethanol burner safety awareness film here.

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Frequently asked questions 

What is an interim ban?  

Bans can be placed on products and product-related services if there is a risk that they may cause serious injury, illness or death.

What products are covered by the national interim ban?  

At this stage, certain portable decorative alcohol fuelled devices are banned, unless they meet any of the following four exclusions:

  1. have a power output of more than 4.5kWs
  2. require installation in a fixed position, such as a fireplace
  3. are designed for warming food
  4. have a dry weight of at least 8 kilograms and a footprint of at least 900 square centimetres and also satisfy one of more of the following conditions that are aimed to make the refuelling of the devices safer:

    a) has a fuel tank that must be removed from the device for refuelling and the device displays the following permanent, prominent warning:

    WARNING

    Filling an alcohol fuelled device while lit has caused severe burns.

    You must remove the fuel tank from the device before refilling.

    When refilling first check the flame is extinguished and that the device is cool.

    or

    b) is supplied with a fuel container that incorporates a flame arrestor and the device displays the following permanent, prominent warning about refuelling risks: 

    WARNING

    Filling an alcohol fuelled device while lit has caused severe burns.

    When refilling only use containers with a flame arrestor.

    When refilling first check the flame is extinguished and that the device is cool.

Why are these products banned?  

Using your alcohol fuelled device could lead to serious injury. Between 2010 and December 2016, there were at least 113 separate injuries attributed to these products and 115 burner related fires. This is the reason for the ban.

I've been using my alcohol fuelled device for years, with no problems. Can I continue to use it?  

No, if your device is captured by the national ibterim ban, you should stop using your alcohol fuelled device, even if you have been using it for a number of years.

What should I do with my alcohol fuelled device?  

You should store your alcohol fuelled device in a safe place and await further information, if it is captured by the interim national ban. If you have your proof of purchase you can contact the store where you purchased the product and request a full refund.

Can I get a refund? 

The Australian Consumer Law provides for consumer guarantees meaning that the goods consumers purchase are of acceptable quality, which includes that they are safe, so you can also ask the retailer who sold you the product for a refund. More information is available on the Consumer guarantees page on the Fair Trading website.

I bought an alcohol fuelled device as a gift. What should I do now?  

If it is captured by the national interim ban, you should take it back to the seller with the proof of purchase to get your money back or an exchange in line with the store’s returns policy.

Is it ok to buy a second hand alcohol fuelled device from a private seller? 

No. Some of these products have been banned due to their potential to cause serious injury or even death. You should not put yourself or others at risk by purchasing one.

Report banned alcohol fuelled devices for sale by calling us on 13 32 20 or by lodging a complaint on the Fair Trading website.

I have seen these products for sale at my local store, how do I report it?  

Report alcohol fuelled devices for sale by calling us on 13 32 20 or by lodging a complaint on the Fair Trading website.

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