Thread: Gas pump fires

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    Cool Gas pump fires

    Static Can Trigger Explosive Fires At Pumps
    Drivers Warned To Remain At Pump

    Most people don't know it, but there's a hidden danger when drivers stop for gas.

    Warnings are well-known at gas stations to shut off cars and extinguish cigarettes before pumping gasoline, but there's another way to inadvertently trigger explosive fires at the gas pump.

    A sudden fire in Tulsa, Okla., burned a woman to death as she filled up her Chevrolet Camaro. It's happened 150 times at gas pumps nationwide, including in Altamonte Springs to Patti Carland.

    "It just went poof," Carland said.

    Carland was lucky, as only her hair was singed. So what causes the fires? They're ignited by a single charge of static electricity, fire officials said.

    It happened because customers went back in their cars while filling up. Experts said as you slide off your seat and go back outside, you build up a static charge, and if the nozzle is the first thing touched, the static charge can spark a fire.

    Seventy-eight percent of the fires happen to women because they're more likely to sit in their cars while fueling.

    So what happens if you find flames coming out of your tank? Experts said the best thing to do is keep the nozzle in the tank because the fire will go out. If you remove the nozzle though, the fire will follow the gasoline, and you, and everything around you will be badly burned.

    The petroleum industry is advising gas stations to put up these warning signs. But surprisingly, industry representatives said there are still many gas station owners who don't know about the problem.

    "If I had read the warning, I wouldn't have pulled out the nozzle," Carland said.

    Not every gas station has put up warning stickers about static electricity, and because there's no law, they don't have to. The dangers of static electricity are also found with portable gas containers like the kind used to fill up lawn mowers.

    Remember, when filling containers, keep them on the ground because a static charge can develop when they're placed in cars or trucks.

    Story from http://www.newschannel2000.com/news/...11000111012002
    POSTED: 9:42 a.m. EST November 1, 2002

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    Default Re: Gas pump fires

    Originally posted by Firebug030
    It happened because customers went back in their cars while filling up. Experts said as you slide off your seat and go back outside, you build up a static charge, and if the nozzle is the first thing touched, the static charge can spark a fire.
    That's another reason to get a leather interior.

    Most nozzles around here are made mostly of plastic and rubber. Don't think a static charge would carry through the plastic.

    Not to say it couldn't happen, but do you think it is one of those urban legends like the cell phone thing?
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    Question For what it's worth....

    The "Urban Legends" people seem to think this one is true.

    Link-Static Electricty & Fueling

    I suppose you can read the information and judge for yourself. This one is sure to "SPARK" more controversy!
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    Motorola actually researched this, I read the result but can't remember which website it was on. Basically it said that they could find no actual documented cases of this happening where the cause was traced to cell phone use, and realistically, there are so many other ignition sources from a car at a gas station that the small possible charge would be an unlikely source of ignition. I'll see if I can find the website again, figures I just tossed the print out of it last week while cleaning out my office.

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    Not the exact research article, but this from the San Fransisco Chronichle


    Cell Phone Fire Hoax Spurs Warnings From Fuel Industry

    Bernadette Tansey, Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff
    Writers

    Saturday, August 28, 1999

    The news report from a tiny mining community in
    British Columbia was enough to make any cellular
    phone owner give up free roaming -- a man filling
    his car with gas was torched when a spark from his
    phone ignited fumes wafting from the pumps.

    The talkative Canadian appeared to have met the
    same fate as cell phone-happy motorists fueling up
    in Indonesia, Finland and Australia. Or had he?

    It turns out that the accidental blaze described in
    Canadian newspapers yesterday never happened.
    Neither have the cell phone- sparked fires reported
    throughout the world.

    Even so, one major oil company has already posted
    warnings against talking on mobile phones at the
    pump, and two others said yesterday they are
    preparing to follow suit.

    The gas station advisories are at least a partial
    response to the apocryphal tales wafting through the
    Web and the news wires of glib motorists bursting
    into flames at the pumps as they check their voice
    mail or close a business deal.

    Motorists filling up on Chevron, Union 76 and
    Circle K service stations will soon see decals on the
    pumps warning them to turn off their cell phones
    and keep them in the car while at the service station.
    Exxon started a similar nationwide program a few
    months ago in response to inquiries by customers
    who heard bogus reports of fires or read warnings
    in their mobile phone manuals.

    Some cell phone manufacturers have been putting
    such instructions in product manuals for years, even
    though they have not substantiated the vague
    reports of callers ignited at gas pumps.

    ``To our knowledge, after extensive research, there
    has never been an incident where a use of a wireless
    phone created a spark that caused a fire or
    explosion,'' said Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for
    the Cellular Telecommunications Industry
    Association.

    Motorola, Inc. spokesman David Rudd said
    warnings on his company's cell phones were
    included to guard against the remote possibility that
    a spark could jump from a dislodged battery. The
    company is rethinking the policy, Rudd said.

    American Petroleum Institute spokesman Juan
    Palomo said Great Britain, Australia and Finland
    have adopted policies requiring advisories against
    cell phone use at gas stations.

    Paul Oves, a spokesman for Tosco refineries, which
    supply Union 76 and Circle K stations, said the
    precautionary warnings his company will issue
    within 60 days have some scientific basis. Cell
    phones and other common electronic devices are
    banned in refineries, where power tools,
    communications devices and even lamplights are
    designed to be explosion-proof.

    But both Tosco and Chevron officials said they
    have found no evidence that cell phones can cause
    explosions at gas stations.

    Oves said the warnings planned by Tosco can do
    no harm and may stop someone from trying to
    pump a tankful of gas while ordering pizza to go on
    a cell phone.

    ``We prefer people filling up their tanks with gas to
    concentrate on filling up their tanks, not talking on
    their cell phones,'' Oves said.

    People filling up at a Walnut Creek Chevron station
    yesterday afternoon scoffed at the notion of cell
    phones causing fires at the pump.

    ``I just don't see how that could happen,'' said Dayv
    Cabrito of Martinez.

    Allen Ergo of Walnut Creek was equally skeptical,
    speculating that oil companies are only posting the
    warnings to protect themselves from being sued.

    ``I think they're just trying to nip things in the bud,''
    he said. ``You always hear `If you thought it was
    possible, why didn't you do anything about it? ' ''

    David McKinney, a spokesman for the
    Shell/Texaco marketing consortium Equilon
    Enterprises, said the company will not post
    warnings to cell phone callers.

    ``We have no reason to believe it's a safety issue,''
    McKinney said.

    But the story out of Trail, British Columbia, took on
    a life of its own as it was picked up by the Toronto
    Star and the Globe and Mail and later swept over
    some news wires

    yesterday.

    Hundreds of reporters and industry officials called
    authorities in Trail, north of Spokane, Wash., to
    learn more about the accident first mentioned in the
    local paper.

    But now it seems the fire prevention spokesman
    quoted was passing on an ``urban legend'' that has
    popped up many times before.

    Rosy Alton, a dispatcher for the Regional Fire
    Services in Trail, said the fire specialist was relying
    on an undated description of a cell phone- induced
    blaze reported in the July issue of a fire chief's
    magazine that gave no location for the incident.

    Media inquiries prompted the Ministry of Municipal
    Affairs of the province of British Columbia to plan a
    safety advisory to motorists with cell phones, even
    though embarrassed officials had to acknowledge
    that they could not substantiate the incident.

    ``I think we'll probably contribute to part of an
    urban legend,'' said Shannon Horner, a
    spokeswoman for the agency.

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    Oh good grief......

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    drkblram, along that whole cell phone thing...we had a nice thread going on about that one a while back...once I get some time I will post the link in this thread unless someone wants to be nice and save me some time
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    the static electricty and gas fumes has occured here in my area before. i think it was in feb. 2002 that it happened. i belive it was myself and drewbo that was having the conversation about it.

    the leather interior doesn't work well in texas. it's hard to sit on leather when the interior of the car becomes about 150 degrees or higher.
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    Originally posted by drkblram
    adze, my friends make fun of CT drivers
    Guess they never saw drivers from Massachusetts! or New York or Jersey for that matter.

    Yeah, we've had people up in my area of CT drive off with the hose still in the car...also have had people just drive straight into the pump...
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    OK this is absolutely no BS, so listen up. If you have an active fire on a gasoline island don't just walk up and put an extinguisher on it. Pull an 1-1/2 or an 1-3/4 line. The reason is that there is a dry break that keeps the gas from flowing out of the pump if the top is knocked off. Under fire conditions these have failed and killed firefighters. (Fire Engineering back in the late 70's early 80's) Yeah, your crew will whine about having to repack hose, but it beats a burn ward any day, and make sure you hit the emergency cut off or the breakers. -Be careful out there....

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    If this original story at the first of this thread was written by a purportedly legit news agency, they have done a sorry-*** job of checking their facts. It's about half true. There is no data on how frequently women were involved.

    http://www.urbanlegends.com/ulz/static.html
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    Guess they never saw drivers from Massachusetts! or New York or Jersey for that matter
    They don't even trust us to pump our own gas in Jersey.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Originally posted by Bones42
    They don't even trust us to pump our own gas in Jersey.
    LMAO...almost forgot about that one...then again, you guys don't have to worry as much about driving off with the caps on your cars or hoses in the tank...

    Side Story...my friends came up from NC. They went to get gas on the Jersey Turnpike and pumped it themselves. They told me that the attendant came out and was staring at them the entire time. We then informed them that they broke the law. Naturally, I harassed them and told them the cops were gonna be on the lookout for his plate when he goes home.

    Ok...well, it seems funnier in real life...guess the words don't really communicate the humor too well...oh well.
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    OK, I'm ignorant, I'll bite. Why won't they let you pump your own gas?
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    --General James Mattis, USMC


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    EastKyFF - State Law.

    Reason for the law - static charge/explosion dangers, used by politicians as "Job Creation". I honestly don't know why NJ would have such a stupid rule, but....we do.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Uh, OK. What's next, fear of E. coli contamination leads to creation of thousands of butt wiper positions?
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
    --General James Mattis, USMC


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    The reason is that there is a dry break that keeps the gas from flowing out of the pump if the top is knocked off. Under fire conditions these have failed and killed firefighters.
    There are two types of pumping systems at petrol stations.

    The first is the submersible system where the actual pump is located in the storage tanks. The easiest way to tell you have a submersible system is the lack of motor noise at the bowser whilst dispensing fuel.

    The other system has the pump in the bowser. When the motor starts and the pump sucks fuel up, it sucks it up through a one way valve (A poppet- made of rubber on a brass fitting.). When the motor stops, the poppet drops back down and seals itelf so as the pump does not lose prime for the next person.


    If the emergency stop has not been hit on any system- do it first. This cuts power to the bowsers, and in the case of a submersible system, to it also.

    With regards to leaks of fuel from bowsers, over here in Oz, the operators are trained that any fuel spill of more than 1 litre requires the fire brigade to be notified and they must attend- not sure how many operators actually follow this rule, though...
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Luke

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    These two photos are of a high speed impact at a service station. The bowser was thrown across the forecourt about 3 metres after the mounting bolts were sheard in the impact.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
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    Thanks for your insight, Lutan. Now what the hell is a bowser, besides a member of Sha-Na-Na?
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