NFPA Fact Sheets
Safety at service stations
Since 1980, the number of vehicle fires at service
stations has more than doubled, partly because of the increase in
the number of vehicles on
the road, while structure fires and other fires decreased by 10
percent. Starting in the late 1990s, NFPA and other organizations
have received isolated reports of flash fires, apparently caused
by static electricity, while patrons were pumping gasoline.
Facts & Figures*
An estimated 7,400 fires and
explosions occurred at public service stations per year from
1994 through 1998. That means that, on average, one in every
13 service stations experienced a fire. These 7,400 fires caused
an annual average of two civilian deaths, 70 civilian injuries
and $18 million in property damage.
Of those 7,400 fires, nearly
two-thirds (4,620) involved vehicles. Vehicle fires led to an
annual average of one civilian death, 37 civilian injuries and
$7.7 million in property damage.
Mechanical or electrical problems
caused three out of four vehicle fires at public service stations.
Gasoline was the material first
ignited in one-third of vehicle fires at these properties.
Seventeen percent of the outside
fires (excluding vehicle fires) and 10 percent of the structure
fires were started by cigarettes.
Static discharge was blamed for
3.2 percent of fires that occurred outside vehicles or structures.
(*From NFPA's Special Data Information Package:
Fires in or at Service Stations and Motor Vehicle Repair and Paint
Shops, April 2002)
Gasoline safety tips:
Turn off your vehicle's engine
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
Don't smoke, light matches or
use lighters while refueling.
Pay attention to what you're
doing. Pumping gas is the transfer of a hazardous substance;
don't engage in other activities.
If you must use any electronic
device, such as cell phones, computers or portable radios while
refueling, follow manufacturer's instructions.
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.
To avoid spills, do not top off
or overfill your vehicle.
After pumping gasoline, leave
the nozzle in the tank opening for a few seconds to avoid drips
when you remove it.
If a fire starts while you're
refueling, don't remove the nozzle from the vehicle or try to
stop the flow of gasoline. Leave the area immediately and call
Don't get in and out of your
vehicle while refueling. A static electric charge can develop
on your body as you slide across the seat, and when you reach
for the pump, a spark can ignite gasoline vapor.
If you must get into the vehicle
during refueling, discharge any static electricity by touching
metal on the outside of the vehicle, away from the filling point,
before removing the nozzle from your vehicle.
Use only approved portable containers
for transporting or storing gasoline. Make sure the container
is in a stable position.
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 filled portable containers in the back of pick-up
trucks, particularly those with plastic bed liners. Removing
the container will also prevent a dangerous spill of gasoline.
When filling a portable container,
keep the nozzle in direct contact with the container. Fill it
only about 95 percent full to leave room for expansion.
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