16 March 2017
Media Release - #2017030, 2017

Interim ban imposed on unsafe ethanol burners

SMALL Business Minister Michael McCormack has today imposed an interim ban to prevent the supply of certain types of decorative alcohol fuelled devices, also known as ethanol burners.

Mr McCormack imposed this interim ban following advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that some ethanol burners create a risk of serious injury.

Today’s interim ban follows Mr McCormack’s proposed ban notice issued on 21 December 2016 and ACCC consultation with stakeholders, including suppliers.

The interim ban will apply to all tabletop and certain freestanding devices that do not have specified safety features and warnings.

The ban will last for 60 days, while the ACCC continues to investigate longer-term options to address the risks associated with these products.

“I'm worried about potential harm these products can cause consumers, which is why we've placed an interim ban on those ethanol burners which pose the greatest risk,” Mr McCormack said.

“Decorative burners filled with methylated spirits, ethanol or bio fuel have caused more than 100 injuries and at least 36 house fires across Australia.

“Many of these products allow the user to refuel the device in the same opening as the burner. The flame is often hard to see and injuries commonly occur when consumers refuel burners which are still burning. This can cause intense uncontrolled fires and fuel bottle explosions.

“Table top burners which are designed to sit on a table are most commonly involved in these incidents and I urge consumers to stop using these products immediately.”

Mr McCormack said products intended for cooking or heating, burners which require installation and larger freestanding devices that have specified safety features and warnings are exempt from the notice.

Retailers and suppliers can go to the ACCC’s product safety website to get further information to help them understand the product range covered by the national interim ban.

Consumers seeking to purchase decorative alcohol fuelled devices should check with suppliers that any product offered is not subject to the ban.

Those concerned about products they have previously purchased should visit the Product Safety Australia website for information about the current ban, consumer rights and how to use burners safely.

For a detailed briefing please contact Meg Macfarlan at ACCC Media on (03) 9290 1836.