Oldranger, whether or not alcohol stoves are legal during fire bans seems to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. That's also true for wood-fired stoves (which may be illegal at or above timberline where all wood is scarce even if there isn't a fire ban). X National Forest will say no and Y National Forest will say yes.
I guess about all you can do is check with the local national forest or park when there's a campfire ban to see if your stove is legal. Some places I've checked with just say, "use a stove" while others specify a stove with a shutoff valve.
Forest fires have started from carelessness with alcohol stoves, but anyone who has seen a canister or, worse yet, white gas stove flare up knows that they can do just as much damage. Certainly nobody is going to reach into a fireball to try to turn the thing off!
No matter what the stove, you need to be extra careful in tinder-dry conditions--preferably have it resting on mineral soil well away from any vegetation.
I have been playing around with an alcohol stove for the past year, but I still prefer my Primus micron canister stove for its convenience.
Edited by OregonMouse (12/15/11 05:36 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey