Fire Risks with Firepots and Other Ethanol-Fuelled Appliances

Risks with Ethonal-Fuelled Appliances

Fire Chief Todd Skene is urging residents in the City of Kenora to be aware of the risks involved with table top firepots or firebowls, or other similar ethanol-fuelled appliances.

The fire risk associated with firepots focuses on flame jetting which occurs when the appliances are re-fuelled.  Flame jetting is what happens when fumes from the fuel are ignited by the flame in the pot, which may not be visible and not entirely out.  If the pot is still warm, there may be a flame present.

Jon Pegg, Ontario’s Fire Marshal, issued a public safety message in August 2019 about the fire safety risks of ethanol-fuelled appliances, noting that since 2016, the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) has investigated eleven fires that involved the use of these appliances.

“If residents have a firepot, and wish to continue to use it, they should be very careful particularly when re-fuelling the pot.” said Fire Chief Skene.  “This is extremely dangerous and may cause an abrupt fire to flare up, causing serious burn injuries or even death.”

On October 9, 2019, Health Canada issued an advisory relating to the health and safety of these appliances which included the following tips on what to do to avoid fires and burns:

  • 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.

Article Links:

Public Safety Message from the Ontario Fire Marshal – August 30, 2019

Health Canada warns Canadians of health and safety risks of certain containers of pourable alcohol-based fuels and certain firepots that use pourable fuels – October 9, 2019