Pritzker Hageman Burn Injury Attorneys Warn About Burn Risk from Alcohol-Fueled Fireplaces

Decorative fireplaces, fire pots, and firepits fueled by rubbing alcohol like ethanol and isopropyl are rising in popularity as alternatives to traditional woodburning and natural gas options. Despite being marketed as safer and more eco-friendly, alcohol burners are quickly becoming a public safety hazard. These products are repeatedly linked to “flame-jetting” fires and explosions, causing severe burn injuries worldwide.

Each year, 454 people die and 3,910 are injured in flammable liquid fires, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association. In response to growing concerns around alcohol fire injuries and other flammable liquid burns, the American Burn Association designated “Flammable Liquid Burns” as the theme for 2024’s National Burn Awareness Week.

What is Flame-Jetting?

After a flame-jetting fire caused the tragic death of a six-year-old girl in Michigan, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) began to investigate the phenomenon.

Flame-jetting occurs when a flammable liquid (like ethanol used to fuel a portable fireplace) is poured onto an open flame from a container. The flame travels back up the liquid fuel stream and ignites the container, turning it into a powerful flamethrower that can cause severe burn injuries to anyone nearby, even as far as 15 feet away.

According to the safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), firepots and any other products with a fuel reservoir should have a label that specifically warns against flame jetting.

Flame-jetting can also occur during school science experiments. Several burn injury lawsuits have been filed by families whose children were burned in fires during school chemistry demonstrations that involve flammable liquids. In 2022, four students and their teacher were injured during a chemistry demonstration at a Virginia high school. In 2019, a teenage girl from North Carolina suffered serious burn injuries when her teacher demonstrated the “rainbow flame” experiment. And in 2017, six preschoolers were injured when their teacher tried the same experiment in Texas.

Alcohol Fire Injury Lawsuit

Multiple fire injury lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of ethanol-fueled heating devices, including fireplaces and lamps. Fire safety advocates around the world have been pushing for increased safety measures to protect people from deadly flame-jetting fires.

Too many fires and explosions happen because household fire products aren’t safe for everyday use. Manufacturers need to prioritize safety and install flame mitigation devices to reduce the risk of devastating burn injuries.

Pritzker Hageman Attorney David Coyle

Flame-jetting fires could be prevented if manufacturers equipped every portable fuel container and heating device with a flame arrester, a safety device that stops flames from escaping.

After U.S. lawmakers passed the Portable Fuel Container Safety Act of 2020, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) created a new mandatory standard that requires fuel containers to be equipped with flame mitigation devices by July 2023.

In October 2019, Health Canada issued a safety alert and prohibited the sale of certain ethanol-fueled firepots and portable fireplaces. Ethanol burners that do not meet mandatory safety standards have been banned in Australia since 2017.

Pritzker Hageman is one of the few law firms in the country with experience representing burn survivors and their families. We have collected hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients including some of the biggest burn recoveries in American history.

Our burn injury legal team is dedicated to providing legal guidance to burn survivors and their families throughout their healing journey. The Pritzker Hageman burn injury attorneys support the burn survivor community by partnering with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and have been active members of the American Burn Association.

The Pritzker Hageman burn injury legal team, in partnership with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, has put together a handbook covering important topics related to legal action after a burn injury.

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Category: Explosion, Fire and Burn Injuries
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