Increase in gas station fires ‘spark’ concern

Tech. Sgt. Wayne Blake
435th Civil Engineer Squadron
fire protection flight

***image1***According to the National Fire Protection Association, since 1980, the number of vehicle fires at service stations has more than doubled. The increase is partly attributed to an increase in the number of vehicles on the road.
Starting in the late 1990s, the NFPA and other organizations began receiving isolated reports of flash fires, apparently caused by static electricity, while patrons were pumping gasoline.
In the KMC, people should use caution when refueling vehicles. Gasoline is a hazardous substance, and people should not be complacent because fueling their automobile is a part of everyday activities.
The KMC fire department wants to make sure everyone knows the proper steps involved in filling vehicles with gas.
The following tips are advised for added safety while pumping fuel:
q Turn off the engine when refueling.
q Keep gasoline and other fuels out of children’s sight and reach. Gasoline is highly toxic in addition to being a fire hazard. Never allow a child to pump gas.
q Don’t smoke, light matches or use lighters while refueling.
q Pay attention. Pumping gas is the transfer of a hazardous substance and requires undivided attention.
q Use only the refueling latch on the gasoline dispenser nozzle, if there is one. Do not jam the latch with an object to hold it open.
q To avoid spills, do not top off or overfill vehicles.
q If a fire starts while refueling, don’t remove the nozzle from the vehicle or try to stop the flow of gasoline. Leave the area immediately and call for help.
q Don’t get in and out of the vehicle while refueling. A static electric charge can develop and ignite gasoline vapor.
q Cell phones should be off or remain in the vehicle while refueling.
q Discharge any static electricity by touching metal on the outside of the vehicle, away from the filling point, before removing the nozzle from the vehicle.
q Use only approved portable containers for transporting or storing gasoline. Make sure the container is in a stable position.
q Never fill a portable container when it is in or on the vehicle. Always place the container on the ground first. Fires caused by static charges have occurred when people fill portable containers in the back of pick-up trucks, particularly those with plastic bed liners.
q Shut down the pump if possible and immediately notify the station attendant to shut off all dispensing devices and pumps with emergency controls. Or use the emergency shutdown button to shut off the pump and use the emergency intercom to summon help.
s Call the fire department – on Ramstein: 06371-47-112, and off base: 112.
Some 24-hour self-service stations will not have an attendant so use the emergency shutoff. People should exit the vehicle from the opposite side.
s Use an available fire extinguisher.
Remember if there is a gasoline smell, then an ignitable mixture exists – a spark or an ignition source could start a fire.