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Firehouse News: Proper filling, storage of fuel containers

By Matthew Davis, Assistant Chief of Fire - | Sep 9, 2021

As we are only halfway through another busy hurricane season, the District would like to point out one public safety topic that is often overlooked. This topic is the proper filling and storage of fuel containers while at your local gas stations.

How often do we stop and look and the warning stickers on our local fuel pumps that point out the many dangers associated with this fueling process? The District would like to take this opportunity to point out a few of these safety concerns.

The first and most important is the storage containers themselves. Only containers that are approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are to be used to transport and store fuel. Additionally, these containers must only be filled to 95 percent of their rated capacity to allow for expansion. During transport, these containers must have spill-proof lids and be stored in a secured location that is well ventilated. The leakage of fuel vapor into the passenger area of a vehicle can lead to many health and safety concerns. 

Another important area of concern is static electricity. Newer metal and plastic containers have been designed to assist in limiting the buildup of static electricity but there is still the opportunity for combustion if the container is not properly grounded. One way to lessen this static build-up is to remove the container from the vehicle and place it securely on the ground before filling. While filling, keep the nozzle in constant contact with the container to provide a path that allows the static charge to dissipate into the ground.

Lastly, never smoke while at a fueling station and keep your cellphones secured in your vehicles. This practice helps to reduce the chance of fire by removing the heat source from the fire tetrahedron. 

Great resources for additional information include: 

• American Burn Association – Gasoline Safety Educators Guide  

• American Petroleum Institute- Tips for safe storage and disposal of gasoline 

Provided by the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District.