Health Canada is informing consumers of the serious fire and burn risks associated with flame jetting occurrences that may result from the use of certain containers of pourable alcohol-based fuels and certain firepots that use those fuels. These products should not be used in the absence of important safety features, such as those outlined below.
Firepots (also referred to as fireburners, portable fireplaces, firebowls, patio burners, flamepots, firelights or table top fire pits) are portable, decorative lighting accents that support open flame burning. Firepots may be marketed for indoor and/or outdoor use. They are generally made of a ceramic or other heat-resistant material, have an open fuel reservoir that holds the alcohol-based fuel, and may also include a snuff tool to extinguish the flame.
Based on incident reports received by Health Canada, flame jetting may occur when refuelling a lit firepot, which can result in burn injuries ranging from minor to fatal. A flame jetting incident occurs very quickly when fuel is poured into a firepot that is still burning or hot. The flame or hot firepot ignites the fuel vapours around the pouring fuel stream and the flame then travels up the fuel stream and into the fuel container. This can result in a burst of flaming fuel being violently expelled out of the container onto the user and nearby people or objects.
A flame jetting occurrence is unexpected and occurs in a fraction of a second, making it impossible for the user and/or bystanders to react quickly enough to move away from a flame jet. Flame jetting incidents often involve multiple victims and, in Canada, have resulted in fatalities and very serious injuries.
Never pour fuel over a flame. Some fuels will burn in a way that flames may be difficult to see, especially when a low amount of fuel is left in the firepot.
Be certain that the flame is out by using a snuffer or similar tool to extinguish the flame.
Be certain that the firepot has cooled completely before refuelling.
Do not use pourable fuel containers without a flame arrestor. A flame arrestor resembles a screen that is built into the container opening. It allows liquid to flow out and reduces the chance that a flame can travel into the container and cause a flame jetting occurrence.
Non-refillable fuel canisters are a safer alternative to pourable fuels.
Other safety considerations for firepots and pourable fuels:
- Use firepots on level ground or on a stable, level surface, at a safe distance from people and flammable items.
- Keep pourable fuels tightly capped when not refuelling and away from any flames or other objects that can create a spark.
Health Canada has distributed a Notice to Stakeholders informing them of Health Canada’s determination that certain containers of pourable alcohol-based fuels and certain firepots that use pourable fuels pose a danger to human health or safety under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. Consequently, Health Canada is asking that industry stop selling these products of concern.
Health Canada has been collaborating with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and other stakeholders in the development of two ASTM International safety standards to address the flame jetting hazard. A safety standard related to firepots was published in February 2019 (ASTM F3363–19, Standard Specification for Unvented Liquid/Gel Fuel-Burning Portable Devices). Another safety standard related to flame mitigation devices (flame arrestors) on disposable fuel containers is currently being developed (ASTM WK60590 – New Specification for Flame Mitigation Devices on Disposable Fuel Containers).
Consumers should check the Government of Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts website regularly for any recalled products and to report any consumer product-related health or safety concerns.