Decorative alcohol fuelled devices

This mandatory standard applies to decorative alcohol fuelled devices.

About decorative alcohol fuelled devices

Decorative alcohol fuelled devices are designed for domestic use and produce a flame using alcohol as fuel. The devices are primarily used for decoration although larger models also may provide heating.

There are three common types of decorative alcohol fuelled devices:

  • table top devices – small, inexpensive devices designed to sit on a table.
  • freestanding devices – larger, heavier and generally more expensive than table top devices. While most are portable, they are not intended to be moved around and are likely to stand on the floor or be placed against a wall or in a prominent position as a feature.
  • fixed devices – require installation in a fixed position (usually wall-mounted or recessed), often referred to as ‘fireplaces’.

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% methanol) which may also be marketed as bio-ethanol or eco-fuel.

Decorative alcohol fuelled devices are also known as:

  • ethanol burners
  • ethanol fireplaces
  • bio-ethanol fireplaces.

Mandatory standard

The mandatory standard, Consumer Goods (Decorative Alcohol Fuelled Devices) Safety Standard 2017, came into effect on 15 July 2017.

The mandatory standard replaces the national interim ban on certain decorative alcohol fuelled devices. The interim ban commenced on 17 March 2017 and ended on 14 July 2017.

The purpose of the mandatory standard is to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to consumers from uncontrolled fires associated with decorative alcohol fuelled devices.

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.

The legislative instrument sets out the requirements for decorative alcohol fuelled devices. An explanatory statement, including a regulation impact statement is available from the link above.

Key requirements

The mandatory standard requires decorative alcohol fuelled devices to comply with the following requirements:

  1. be a permanent fixture or have a dry weight of at least 8 kilograms and a footprint of at least 900 square centimetres;
  2. meet the stability test set out in the European standard; and
  3. come with a fuel container with a flame arrester or an automatic fuel pump system
  4. have the prescribed warning.

The mandatory safety standard differs from the national interim ban in that the standard:

  • deletes the 4.5 kilowatts test;
  • includes the stability test set out in the European standard;
  • requires all devices to be supplied with a flame arrester (or a fuel pump); and
  • varies the warnings to also refer to deaths.

Access to standards information

In 2017, the European Standard could be purchased from the SAI Global website . The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission can make a copy of the European Standard available for viewing at one of its offices, subject to licensing conditions.