You won't run as large of a risk of thermal burns if you properly control your heating device.
I use a human heating pad as so far I have seen more fire risk from people wiring their own heat tape up, or lights falling down and starting fires. In my own reptile room, our small iguana once broke free, when I came in my frogs night light was on the floor burning the carpet. Couple minutes more and the house would have caught fire.
My point is that anything that makes heat, including your stove when you cook, is a fire hazard. Some things are a bigger hazard then others, some lower. For us, with cats, a small dog, and other herps....having lights sitting around on top of cages is a FAR higher risk than a heating pad secured underneath. We don't allow the animals to go near the cages but accidents sometimes happen, doors get left open (opps!) or opened, and once like I mentioned our iguana escaped.
I use a human heating pad on my ball python with a thermastat set to 88 or so, 12 hours per day (going on and off all day because of thermastat)....the floor of the cage doesn't go above 90 on the heating pad area, and is covered with layers of paper towel. So far, no thermal burns from these less than 90 temps. So personally I don't agree with "they are the worst thing in the world" or whatever the line was. My choices are wiring my own heat tape, which with my skill would be a HUGE fire hazard, or using lights, which in MY sitaution are also a huge fire hazard.
And I personally didn't save any money buying a human heating pad. I actually ended up spending about 80 dollars MORE than buying a reptile pad because of the thermastat I purchased. It wasn't a choice of price. It never is for me.
Anyways my point is that in certain situations some things are more hazardous than others, where in other situations things are safer. It all depends on what you need.