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Suppose there are several cases of zombie outbreaks across the globe during World War One, it was believed that the Central Powers* unleashed a deadly fungal disease into the world, hoping to create panics and confusions among the Allies forces.

It is known that conventional weapon like rifles and grenades are ineffective for zombie control, however several governments wanted to ban the use of flamethrower at such critical moment! Why would the government discourage its citizens from possession of a flamethrower as a deterrent against the epidemic? One would catch the disease simply by ingesting contaminated food, or an open wound being exposed to infected bodily fluids, the symptoms show up after 2 hours and at the moment it is incurable and deadly.

*I'd incorrectly stated axis powers.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for actual reasons for a well-meaning government, or is the evil government wanting to cull humanity and needing some kind of justification for their ban on anti-zombie weapons? $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Sep 5 '16 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ Petrol rationing? Not a ban on flamethrowers per se, but severe unavailability of the fuel and it's illegal to divert it to flamethrowers from transport. $\endgroup$ – pjc50 Sep 5 '16 at 9:37
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    $\begingroup$ Usually the term "zombie apocalypse" suggests that there is no government to enforce anything anymore left... $\endgroup$ – PlasmaHH Sep 5 '16 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ Is it KNOWN that the flamethrower actually works against zombies? It seems implied, but it might as well be just as useless as rifles and grenades. It depends on what really kills a zombie whether using them makes sense. $\endgroup$ – Erik Sep 5 '16 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ I am surprised no one has explicitly mentioned collateral damage so far. You guys really want to see the world go up in flames, don't you? $\endgroup$ – Renan Sep 6 '16 at 15:49

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The only thing worse than a zombie chasing you... is a FLAMING zombie chasing you!

Your zombies don't immediately die once set ablaze. Sure, EVENTUALLY enough of their flesh has burned off to render them immobile, but until then they spread the fire to houses, forests, and humans nearby. The danger from raging wild- and city fires is too big to justify for such a slow method of zombie-killing.

The main advantages of a flamethrower against human opponents are the fear it strikes into humans (fire bad!) - which zombies do not have - and the ability to burn down cover (high grass, copses of trees, buildings) - which one might not want to do if the zombies don't USE cover anyway, and the buildings are all yours.

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    $\begingroup$ "I'm here to report we failed to retake London." "But I heard you wiped out the zombies?" "Oh yes, that part was a smashing success. But the fires we used to exterminate the zombies spread throughout the city, and now there isn't any London left to retake." $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Sep 5 '16 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ I was playing Project Zomboid and I thought it was a good idea to craft a molotov cocktail. Boy was I wrong! I had BURNING zombies coming after me and they JUST WOULDN'T DIE. Even though I used the cocktail in quite open ground, away from the buildings, the zombies started walking in all directions burning down the entire town. Never again! $\endgroup$ – AmazingDreams Sep 5 '16 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @AmazingDreams always good to hear a reference to PZ. $\endgroup$ – wannabeLearner Sep 5 '16 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ The question was never if it would be effective. It's why should it be outlawed. $\endgroup$ – wannabeLearner Sep 5 '16 at 13:26
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    $\begingroup$ @wannabeLearner outlawed because not effective and dangerous, of course. $\endgroup$ – Malkev Sep 5 '16 at 13:28
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There are some species of fungi were their spores can be dispersed by large fires. This is a link to an article on the transport of spores in the smoke from biomass fires. http://www.patarnott.com/atms360/pdf_atms360/04034Mims.pdf

There are also some plants that require forest or bush fires to enable their seeds to germinate, although fungi are not plants a similar mechanism could exist.

Your fungal disease that causes Zombies could be one that survives fire and could survive a flamethrower attack even if the host body was destroyed.

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  • $\begingroup$ Loved that piece of knowledge, been in Australia where i saw some of that flora and it's truly fascinating, still it works better with plants because as a plant if your "home" burns its "jackpot" for you as you won't have anyone to share the land with, but a disease can share a host with no problem making it a less overpowered feature for a desease. Still, the question is why should government ban flamethrowers. $\endgroup$ – wannabeLearner Sep 5 '16 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ If you know that fire spreads the disease then banning flamethrowers would be a logical step to slow that spread. $\endgroup$ – Sarriesfan Sep 5 '16 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ That is actually genius hadn't thought about that. But... "One would caught the disease simply by ingesting contaminated food or open wound being exposed to infected bodily fluid" breathing should be fine no? $\endgroup$ – wannabeLearner Sep 5 '16 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Yes but people knew what fungal spores were for a long time before that article, you can disturb something like a Giant Puffball mushroom and see the spores released into the atmosphere. People fighting a similarly infected zombie would see the spores released and put 2 and 2 together. It's also worth noting that although the user6760 has not specified breathing in spores as a vector, there are many examples of breathing in fungal spores that do cause disease in the real world. $\endgroup$ – Sarriesfan Sep 6 '16 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Sarriesfan once you see a giant spore cloud raising away from a burning zombie - even if you do realise it's a spore cloud, it's far too late to do anything about it. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Sep 6 '16 at 20:16
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Flamethrowers weren't all that great in that situation as a weapon:

"The weapon is limited to only a few seconds of burn time since it uses fuel very quickly, requiring the operator to be precise and conservative".

And in WW1 there were no practical containers for fuel. So i don't really think that would be a great apocalypse weapon.

Still from a government viewpoint, do you really want civilians to carry a weapon which if not well used could burn a whole building to the ground? Especially if you knew they would use it in a panic situation and you were at war so it wasn't easy to get the means to put out fires? Spending precious fuel

EDIT: Also, Germany were the proud users of the flamethrowers (Flammenwerfer) (~2 minute burn time on each load) in WW1, the British alternative was... a bit heavy (Livens Large Gallery Flame Projecto) ... and only appeared latter in the war.

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    $\begingroup$ That third paragraph makes a very good point: Panicked people with flamethrowers is an excellent recipe for widespread collateral damage. Even if they only hit zombies, and avoid every structure, the zombies could still end up lighting buildings on fire. Add to that that people probably won't be storing fuel securely, AND people would end up fighting each other over fuel (and probably blowing themselves up), and fighting zombies with flamethrowers will likely just help to kill humanity faster. $\endgroup$ – Justin Time Sep 7 '16 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ @JustinTime yes, and there weren't jerrycans or containers as such back in WW1 so people would probably store it in barrels and cans i thought that paragraph wasn't very clear. $\endgroup$ – wannabeLearner Sep 9 '16 at 8:49
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During the apocalypse fuel becomes a scarce resource and the government think fuel is better used for transportation/heating/power/lighting.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that if it is a ban from the government, it is probably a ban about using it, not about selling it. $\endgroup$ – SOFe Sep 5 '16 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ @PEMapModder i think he means the ban is about rationing it, saving it for transportation and power instead of wasting it on burning zombies! $\endgroup$ – Magic-Mouse Sep 5 '16 at 12:23
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Because a lot of people use flamethrower against zombie without proper precautions or skills, causing uncontrolled fire, severe burns and dead. Consequently, government decide that flamethrower kill more people than they save, resulting a ban.

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Lots of uncontrolled fires

If your infrastructure is disrupted, fires become way bigger problem. Your firemen would probably be overworked as they are even without citizens setting fire to whatever looks suspicious - and flaming zombies setting fire to everything else.

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Humanitarianism?

While you mentioned that zombies are probably incurable, it is probably not considered humane to kill an insane or diseased person just to protect others.

This is probably not a reason you want to use in your setting though, because your story might be full of zombie killing.

But even if you slaughter zombies like animals, modern humans always avoid burning animals alive.

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  • $\begingroup$ that is actually the reason why they are banned nowadays but this is in a time when melting someone's face with chlorine gas was a big ok. $\endgroup$ – wannabeLearner Sep 5 '16 at 15:17
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Some governments simply don't believe that there's a zombie apocalypse. It sounds absurd, after all. Doubtless those OTHER governments harping on about zombies are just looking for an excuse to use inhumane weapons to subjugate their citizens.

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Because burn wounds are nasty

Burn wounds are extremely nasty stuff, especially if your healthcare system has broken down and you have no access to proper medication. A cut or a scratch you can deal with fairly easy, in comparison to a burn wound, that is one big open gate for all sorts of pathogens to enter your body. Even if a fumble with the flamethrower does not kill your comrades, just a few splashes will cause casualties.

Then there is always the risk of setting fire to everything around you... which is bad.

And as mentioned above: a zombie that tries to eat your face is bad news. A flaming zombie that tries to eat your face while setting you on fire... well... let us not go there... it is a silly place.

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I expected to read very detailed answers, there are literaly tons of reasons to not use flamethrowers, Just glad most reasons was not already told in other answers.

Flamethrowers are weapons designed to kill people finding refuge in very small spaces (American invasion to Japan Isles) like bunkers. First of all it would not be a very effective weapon against zombies (not if you are in immediate danger):

  • They do breath? Mostly not (they do smell, but in most movies Zombies just walk underwater, that made me think they do not breath)
  • They do rely much on senses? Not likely, and could still wander even if blinded

How much time is required by a flamethrower to kill a zombie? The time to severly damage the brain or at least to burn muscles that allow moving it. How much time is required to cook meat? More than few seconds for sure.

You don't want a weapon that require 1 minute to kill an enemy that can be killed by 1 bullet

Not to mention that 1 gun with 1 bullet is much more lightweight than a full flamethrower suit.

People dying because of flamethrowers mostly dies because of damages to plumbs or because start running as crazy under enemy fire, or just because commit suicide with weapons at its disposal (or because explosives it was bringin are ignited by the flames).

That weapon seems much more usefull to kill humans rather than zombies.

Also note:

  • You cannot say if someone killed by a flamethrower was a Zombie or a Human (may matter to know for public health stuff)
  • You cannot recognize who was the burnt person (easy kill someone and then disguise by removing clothes etc)
  • Using flamethrower inside buildings is very Dangerous
  • You could kill anyone who was hiding from zombies (you burn zombies in a house where there was children hiding)
  • Fuel is a rare resource in a zombie apocalypse world, you usually prefer it for vehicles. Assuming flamethrowers use fuel
  • Difficult to create ammunitions: gunpowder much easy to create, you just need to know which ingredients to mix, instead fuel and flamethrowers ammuntions requires a full oil industry (in addition to weapon industry).

Another important reason:

What do zombies eat? Meat. What do you think zombies would do if they start to smell that delicious barbecue of burning meat? Zombies would just come in hordes to your current place.

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Fire Accelerates the Zombie Mutation

In the movie Evolution, alien microbes from a meteor quickly evolve into threatening creatures. The scientists later discover that fire dramatically increases the growth of the creatures rather than killing them. I doubt there could be a hard science explanation for this; but if you don't mind, your zombies could be like the aliens, using the fire's energy to become stronger.

If you want a slightly more plausible explanation, the zombies have fire-retardant skin. The government doesn't want civilians using flamethrowers for the same reason they tell people not to use hand sanitizer all the time. Each time a group of zombies gets torched, there's a chance that some of the zombie virus will survive and infect more humans to make an even thicker-skinned generation of zombies. It's kinda hard to chop their heads off when their necks are made of alligator hide.

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    $\begingroup$ funny one +1. Even If I don't believe zombies have anything to do with evolution, this one is my favourite XD $\endgroup$ – GameDeveloper Sep 7 '16 at 13:18
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It hardly seems necessary to ban civilians from using flamethrowers. Where would they get them from?

The British and Americans don't seem to have produced portable flamethrowers during WWI, the French did by 1917, but the military would have had them all. The French weren't selling arms to their civilians during the war, their army needed all that could be made.

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seeing as the zombies were a fungal infection, airborne spores etc. by burning the zombies the heat from a flamethrower would cause spores to rise and travel further, infecting regions easier, spreading into uninfected safe zones etc.

Edit: Also, you stated world war one allies, which I would assume to be more England etc. than america (as the Americans only joined the war later on) which doesn't have second amendment rights etc.) Therefore the weapons may have been banned as they are a high powered weapon, which requires special training, large and volatile equipment strapped to back etc. (and in world war one they would often explode with only a little jostling) which, one, would suck if it blew up on you and destroyed your camp, and two, if you died with one of these on you are now an explosive suicide zombie and shooting you would most likely kill whoever shot you

also I imagine during an zombie apocalypse, if governments were still in existence then they would restrict weaponry (other than small arms etc.). you wouldn't want untrained civilians accidentally shooting everyone (or your own soldiers) when you're trying to keep things under control

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry I posted my answer and did not read yours $\endgroup$ – kratos Sep 6 '16 at 14:59
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The flamethrowers are causing the Zombies to mutate resulting in zombies to excrete contagious vapor that can infect bird life thus affecting our food supplies.

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Flamethrowers are a relatively short-ranged weapon.

Even if they were able to melt a zombie instantly, you would have to be near your enemies, who could end up surrounding and haunting you. And as stated in other answers, real flamethrowers aren't zombie-melters at all, so the chances of surviving when using them are low.

Now imagine that some genius starts spreading that using flamethrowers is the good move. Then a lot of people would try building home made ones and go haunting zombies. This would end up with those people dying or getting infected, along with building burning.

By banning them, government would avoid that kind of close combat spirit among the citizen and the consequent growth of the zombie army.

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The zombies produce methane gas which is extremely flammable

In this situation, using fire against zombies would cause explosions in confined spaces, or uncontrollable fires in open spaces.

The gas would be produced by the digestive system of the zombie, or as a consequence of decomposition. Methane is an odorless gas, so in close quarters situations, such as abandoned hallways or interior rooms with closed doors, you could also encounter the danger of the methane surreptitiously replacing all the oxygen in the enclosed area. In that case, you wouldn't even get to the flammable part before unexpectedly passing out.

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No government system would be able to enforce this type of ban. While I totally agree with those that mention forest fires or building burning down. We must never forget that during the zombie invasion, it's diseases that will kill humanity in the end.

The amount of corpses around will be the perfect breeding ground for pathogens. Flamethrowers could then be used to deal with these zombies. I believe it's more of when you use it then if you should.

For example: If you manage to place yourself on high ground with a fence or stone wall protection you. Using a flamethrower might be a good idea. It takes away the risk of going out and disposing of the corpses.

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Human right reasons

You can't harm other man without a clearly justifiable self-defense situation. Only to buy a flamethrower with the clear intent to later harm others is criminality, a preparation to commit murder.

Against our citizens belonging to the changed livingness minority. I hope you know, it significantly aggravates your crime.

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    $\begingroup$ How is the situation of buying a flamethrower different from buying a firearm? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Sep 6 '16 at 0:43
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think that zombies who try to eat you are still humans? Would it be a crime to kill something which try to eat you? $\endgroup$ – A.L Sep 6 '16 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ The setting is the early 1900's when racism was rife. You know how people call their grandparents "old fashioned" when they mean they were are so racist they believe people of other races are subhuman or even pure animal, and correct me if I am wrong but human rights did not exist back then. $\endgroup$ – rom016 Sep 6 '16 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ Actually I'm pretty sure a "clearly justifiable self-defense situation" applies when the zombie hordes are actively and single-mindedly trying to eat you; thus your "criminality" does not apply. Further, as others stated, in the early 1900's time frame there'd be no "changed livingness minority", it'd be "us" and "them", and if you're not one of us... $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Sep 6 '16 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ Although they are banned nowadays i think back in WW1 and in the middle of that type of crisis that wouldn't be the reason for a ban... And if you buy with the intent to protect yourself from someone who is going to make you his dinner i am pretty sure it would be self-defense... And repeating something i already said here, this was a time where using chlorine gas was ok and that... was a bit nasty... (would link an image but i am pretty sure i can't) $\endgroup$ – wannabeLearner Sep 7 '16 at 13:32

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