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Bio-fireplaces and reading instructions. “The number of burn victims increases every year” – Wprost


Bio-ethanol fireplaces are becoming more and more popular. This happens for several reasons: they are aesthetic, relatively inexpensive and, above all, they do not require a complicated fireplace installation, which means they can be used in almost any room.

Bio-fireplaces. Are they safe?

– The visual aspect is important. Flame is associated with warmth, home and atmospheric atmosphere – says the seller of bio-fireplaces. He adds: – We are increasingly hearing about bans on smoking in traditional fireplaces, and bio-fireplaces work well when it comes to environmental protection. The interest in them is huge.

Bio-ethanol fireplaces are available not only in specialized stores, but also in large DIY stores. What do sellers tell potential customers about them? We checked with a hidden camera. The sellers assured us that bio-fireplaces are safe devices. In this case, why do shocking accident reports appear in the media?

– If the instructions have not been read properly, if the steps when lighting the fireplace have not been followed, I mean adding the wrong fuel and pouring it into the heated fireplace in a confined, unventilated space, it is possible to lead to a situation where instead of combustion, we will be faced with with an explosion – says Brig. Bożena Kukfisz from the Main School of Fire Service in Warsaw.

It is possible that it was due to carelessness that tragic events occurred in the homes of the heroines of our reportage.

– I came home in the evening after work, lit a fire in the fireplace, just to set the mood. I started making food and saw that the fireplace had gone out. I decided to light it up again. It was lukewarm. I added fuel and caught fire, recalls Mrs. Agnieszka.

– I added fuel to the extinguished fireplace because I wanted to light it again. Unfortunately, it did not cool down evenly throughout. It turned out that there was still smoldering at the bottom of the left ventricle, which I didn’t notice, says Mrs. Monika. He adds: – When pouring biofuel, a spark flew. I got scared and poured biofuel on myself and all the fire went to me. I threw a can of biofuel and it exploded. The biofuel bottle exploded and the windows in the apartment blew out. I still remember that the fire brigade arrived, then I lost consciousness and I don’t remember anything else.

– We were with family. My brother suggested that I light the bio-fireplace again. I did the exact same procedure as always. Then there was an explosion. I tripped, fell and the fuel spilled on me and the floor. Then there was an even bigger explosion, the window frames were torn off – says the second Mrs. Monika. She adds: – I was so shocked that I don’t remember the details. I know my hands were deeply burned and my skin was hanging off. The whole face was badly burned, the lips were glued together and the eyes were too.

The number of burn victims increases every year

The burned women were taken to the Burn Treatment Center in Siemianowice Śląskie. They underwent long hospitalization and are still undergoing rehabilitation. According to doctors from the Siemianowice hospital, the number of people burned as a result of using bio-fireplaces has been increasing for several years. Last year, 17 people were treated there – this year – twice as many.

– These are patients who have quite deep burns. They often require multi-stage treatment and wound cleaning. Patients suffer burns not only to their hands and face, but often also to their intimate areas. They also often have burns of the respiratory tract, so the treatment takes longer, says Karolina Mikuś-Zagórska, MD, PhD, from the Burn Treatment Center in Siemianowice Śląskie.

– When I was in the hospital, three people were in rehabilitation with me and two were in the surgical ward. All five people were there after the bio-fireplace exploded, says Ms. Monika. He adds: – In the room with me was a 24-year-old girl who had 60% burns. body. The whole family was also there after the bio-fireplace exploded. There were wallpapers and coffers there. It started to melt and burning coffers started falling on them. It was a husband, wife and two children.

Experience with firefighters

We went with Mrs. Agnieszka’s bio-fireplace to the training ground of the Fire Academy to demonstrate, with the help of firefighters, how dangerous a bio-fireplace can be when handled incorrectly. Firefighters placed the bio-fireplace in a special container. They poured biofuel into the burning device. However, there was no explosion, the bottle held by the fireman caught fire.

– Explosions most often occur when a flammable substance evaporates in the form of steam or gas and causes ignition after a certain delay. If we carried out such a situation, as the firefighter did, in conditions where the fireplace would be extinguished, and we added fuel, pouring it around the fireplace, onto various surfaces, and with a certain delay caused the ignition of these vapors, it would be possible to initiate an explosion phenomenon – says Brig. Bożena Kukfisz. – The fire hazard is not posed by the liquid, but by its vapors – he adds.

Such vapors were created during another situation – a firefighter had a bottle in his hand with a small amount of biofuel that was evaporating. As he poured the rest of the fuel into the fire, he also sprayed the biofuel fumes. Then there was an explosion.

Are bio-fireplaces 100% safe? safe to use them in apartments? – Concepts 100 percent safe… I think they can be used safely if a person reads the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follows its requirements. Our awareness and education related to this should ensure that these rooms have, for example, fire extinguishers or carbon monoxide detectors or other elements that we can retrofit with, although the regulations do not oblige us to do so – says Brig. Bożena Kukfisz.

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