New safety standard released for ethanol burners

New safety standard released for ethanol burners

MFS Image - Ethanol Burner in use - web

The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) has welcomed the recent introduction of a new safety standard for decorative alcohol fuelled devices, also known as ethanol burners.

The newly introduced national standard took effect from 15 July 2017, and follows a state-wide interim ban issued in late 2016 and a subsequent national ban. The new standard prevents the sale of dangerous decorative alcohol fuelled devices, while requiring manufacturers to provide key safety features and specific warnings for other models of similar devices.

MFS Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Community Safety and Resilience, Glenn Benham said that since 2010, decorative burners have been linked to more than 100 injuries and 36 house fires across Australia.

“Some of these devices have caused serious burn injuries as users attempted to refuel them, with at least three fatalities recorded overseas.

“Injuries commonly occur when users attempt to refill the device before it has cooled down, not realising the residual heat could result in a flash flame or uncontrolled fire. Many of these products use the burner opening to refuel, which increases the risk of fire.
MFS Image - Ethanol burner - web
“The MFS urges anyone who has purchased an unsafe ethanol burner prior to the introduction of this safety standard to immediately stop using it,” said MFS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Benham.

Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said suppliers were given three months to transition to the new safety standard.

“Suppliers found to be supplying decorative alcohol-fuelled devices that do not comply with the safety standard on or after 15 October 2017 may face prosecution under the Australian Consumer Law with a maximum penalty of $1.1 million for a body corporate, or $220,000 for an individual,” he said.

The new safety standard:MFS Image - Flame arrester web

  • Prevents the supply of portable devices with a footprint of less than 900 cm2 and which weigh less than 8 kilograms;
  • Requires freestanding and fixed devices to:
    • meet an applicable stability test described in the European standard EN16647:2015,
    • be supplied with a fuel container with a flame arrester (or an automatic fuel pump system) and
    • display specific hazard warnings on the device about refuelling hazards.


The MFS recommends the following safety tips for decorative alcohol burners (or ethanol burners/fireplaces):

  • Before purchase, check that the ethanol burner complies with the Safety Standard.
  • Children and pets must be supervised at all times when they are in use.
  • Avoid touching the devices while in use, as they can get hot and cause burns.
  • Never re-fuel an ethanol burner while it is alight or hot. The device must cool completely before being refuelled; the ethanol fuel can ignite on contact with the hot surface, as illustrated in the following video clip:  
  • Use a leak-proof filling container to avoid fuel spills. Do not overfill the tank. Completely clean-up any fuel spills before lighting.
  • Never use any other form of liquid fuel in an ethanol burner or fireplace; use only approved ethanol fuel.
  • Store liquid fuel safely and securely, away from heat sources. Avoid keeping large quantities of fuel in the house.