gasoline safety : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Reposted from other forum by suggestion: Chevron states at

"Instructions To Minimize The Risk of Fire From Static Electricity In Special Gasoline Fueling Situations-- Those Not Involving The Direct Fueling of Cars and Trucks

News about a fire at a service station recently was published on the Internet:

"I want to relate an incident that happened to a friend of mine the other day. He was filling a small gas can placed on the bedliner in the back of his pickup. The gasoline spontaneously ignited, burning him in the process. The investigation determined that the fire was caused by static electricity."

Gasoline fires suspected of being started by a spark of static electricity during fuel transfer are rare. Almost none of the documented incidents involve direct fueling of a car or truck because both vehicles and dispensers are designed to dissipate static electricity to ground. Instead, they involve fueling situations where the gasoline receptacle could be insulated from ground-portable containers and equipment being transported on a truck or trailer.

Portable Containers

To minimize the danger from fire while filling a portable container with gasoline...

Turn off your vehicles engine.

Extinguish smoking materials (cigarettes, pipes, etc.).

Remove the container from the vehicle and place it on the ground a safe distance from the vehicle.

Keep the nozzle in contact with the container at the inlet during fuel transfer.

Other general safety considerations

Only use an approved container.

Never lock the nozzle trigger in the open position.

Do not fill the container more than 95% full.

The above instructions also apply to rack-mounted, five-gallon, military-type fuel containers, which should be removed from the vehicle and placed on the ground for filling; and to portable containers used as fuel reservoirs for outboard marine engines, which should be removed from the boat and placed on the ground or on the wharf for filling.

Equipment on Trucks or Trailers

Motorcycles, lawn movers and other garden equipment, snowmobiles, jet skis and boats are examples of gasoline-powered equipment that are transported on trucks and trailers. Because Chevron is aware of three fires involving jet skis and snow-mobiles, we suggest, when practical, either:

Placing the equipment on the ground before fueling it from a dispenser, or If the equipment is left on the truck or trailer, fueling it from a portable container.

Customers who choose to fuel gasoline-powered equipment on a truck or trailer directly from a dispenser should make sure they keep the dispenser nozzle in contact with the fuel tank fill tube.

Gasoline, Static Electricity And Fires

Gasoline has a low electrical conductivity-- it does not conduct electricity very well. As a result, a charge of static electricity builds up on gasoline as it flows through a pipe or hose and this charge takes several seconds to several minutes to dissipate after the gasoline has reached a tank or container. If this charge discharges as a spark from a tank or container to the grounded metal nozzle of the gasoline dispenser hose, it may ignite the gasoline. Ignition requires that the spark occur near the tank opening where the gasoline vapor is in the flammable range.1 A spark discharge directly from the surface of the gasoline to the grounded nozzle also is possible. Normally, this will not result in ignition because the concentration of gasoline vapor near the liquid is above the flammable limit.

Theory and experience suggest that the condition most likely to lead to a spark discharge is filling a metal container or tank that is insulated from ground, i.e., one which is ungrounded. This is the situation that exists when a metal container is placed on a plastic bedliner.

Most Hazardous Ungrounded metal container Less Hazardous Non-conducting container (e.g., plastic container) Least Hazardous Grounded metal container

The Petroleum Equipment Institute recorded 25 fires involving the filling of portable gasoline containers between 1990 and 1995. Appendix I summarizes the conditions of the 20 incidents for which they have first-hand reports. The frequency of incidents increased in 1994 and 1995, perhaps because bedliners became more common in this period.

Preventing Static Electricity from Initiating Gasoline Fires

Fires initiated by sparks can be prevented if static electricity is not allowed to build up, particularly on conductors. One defense is to dissipate electrical charge by creating paths that allow it to flow to ground.

Placing a container on the ground makes it easier for electrical charge to escape. Cement or dirt are better conductors of electricity than asphalt and, therefore, better grounding surfaces. While vehicles that are driven to a service station may not appear to be grounded, they are. Tires are good enough conductors to allow electrical charge to escape to ground.

Keeping the dispenser nozzle in contact with the container at the inlet or with the fuel tank fill tube creates another path by which electrical charge can escape. This is because the dispenser is grounded and the nozzle is bonded to the dispenser through the dispenser hose.

When a vehicle or other equipment can't be placed on the ground, a second defense is to fuel more slowly. The slower gasoline flows, the less static electricity is generated. This is why Chevron suggests using a portable container to fuel gasoline-powered equipment (motorcycles, jet skis, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, etc.) being transported on a truck or trailer. People usually pour fuel more slowly from a portable container than it is delivered by a dispenser.

As one of several actions to warn customers, Chevron is posting this warning label on Chevron gasoline dispensers:

WARNING: PORTABLE CONTAINER FIRE HAZARD Improper filling of portable gasoline containers creates danger of fire.

To fill a container:

Place approved container on the ground away from vehicle or trailer. DO NOT fill any container that is inside a vehicle or on a truck/trailer bed. Keep nozzle in contact with the container while filling. Do not use a nozzle lock-open device.

It is unlawful and dangerous to dispense gasoline into unapproved or improperly labeled containers.

Other Safety Information about Containers

Approved Containers. Federal, state, and local regulations make it unlawful to dispense gasoline into unapproved or improperly labeled containers. To be approved, a container must be predominantly red in color and must be able to hold gasoline securely without risk of leaking or breaking. Glass containers are not approved for transporting or storing gasoline. The container also must bear a warning label about the dangers of gasoline. Approved containers made of metal or plastic are available at hardware and automotive supply stores.

A container with acceptable strength and durability can be made from either metal or plastic when properly designed and manufactured. Metal containers, when grounded, provide the greatest protection against fires caused by static electricity. Plastic containers will not rust or corrode when gasoline is stored in them for a long time."


-- marsh (, July 08, 1999

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