Colourful Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons is planning to sell a controversial new type of ''exploding'' fire extinguisher that has not been safety tested or approved by Australian regulators.
The paparazzo-turned-politician has become the local partner for a Hong Kong-based ''research and development'' business that manufactures and distributes the product, known as the Lifetech Fire Extinguisher Ball.
But fire safety experts, including the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, have serious reservations about the effectiveness and safety of the ball-shaped device, which detonates in a cloud of powder-based fire suppressant on contact with flames.
The ball, which is bright red and about the size of a basketball, is advertised as safe for anyone to use to fight fires, including children.
''When simply thrown into a fire, it will activate within three seconds and effectively disperse extinguishing chemicals,'' marketing materials say. A promotional video shows a young boy rolling the ball into a fire, which is immediately snuffed out.
But the device has not been approved by any of the three main testing and certification groups in Australia, including one backed by the CSIRO.
Neumann Ashkar, chairman of the Australian Fire Safety Practitioners Accreditation Board, said he would be ''eternally surprised'' if such a product was accepted for use in Australia.
''It relies on an uncontrolled application by tossing it at the fire, then it explodes.
Using it on a fire caused by burning fat or oil in the kitchen - like it is shown in the promotional video - would carry serious risks of spreading the fire further,'' he said.
Fire brigade Commander Darren Comlin said that while the brigade did not ''endorse or disendorse'' commercial products, it had noted that such devices did not adhere to the same Australian standards as traditional fire extinguishers.
Mr Lyons denied knowing about the local business registered in his name, saying he needed to consult the chief executive of his group of companies. He has not responded to repeated requests for more comment.
Life Tech (Aust) is a subsidiary of Lifetech Worldwide Limited based in Hong Kong. The parent company also did not respond to a request for comment.