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Presentation on theme: "STATIC ELECTRICITY FIRES AT THE GAS PUMP"— Presentation transcript:


2 Course Information Course Author: Teresa Patton, Training Administration Photography: Lynne Presley, Training Administration Course Issued: July 1, 2006 Course Credit: 30 minutes ORACLE Course Code: SAFI92000 Data Sources: Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI), 2006 Purdue University, Do’s & Don’ts at the Gas Pump Web Site Hamilton County Environmental Services, Web Site National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), July 1998 Do It Yourself, Don’t Put Yourself in Harm’s Way at the Fuel Pump, Web Site

3 Performance Objectives
At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to: Describe how static electricity can be generated during fueling Identify the primary way to avoid static electricity buildup at the gas pump Understand how to discharge static electricity before touching the fuel nozzle Describe safe procedures to fill a gas can

4 Introduction Most consumers are aware of static electricity. Common examples are the shock felt when dragging your feet across a carpet or the electrical discharge seen and felt when removing laundry from the clothes dryer. Static charge build-up is enhanced when the air is dry. Static shocks are often noticed in cold dry weather, especially when in a centrally heated environment, and may disappear when the weather gets more humid. Static shocks may also be encouraged under air conditioning in hot weather.

5 Introduction Warning Static electricity can ignite gasoline vapors. Stay near your vehicle and do not re-enter it while fueling. If you do re-enter your vehicle during fueling, touch a metal part of your vehicle before touching the gasoline nozzle to discharge any potential static buildup. Static shocks are caused by the friction between two dissimilar types of matter carrying opposite electrical charges. Although most static shocks are harmless, the presence of static electricity at the fuel pump can, given certain unsafe practices, have tragic results. That is why many fuel pumps now carry warning stickers, such as the one shown above.

6 Static Electricity at the Gas Pump
Static electricity-caused fires at the pump are extremely rare. In fact, Americans pump gasoline into their cars an estimated 11 to 12 billion times a year, generally without incident. However, fires do occur. How does this happen? Static electricity may build up when a motorist re-enters the vehicle during fueling and slides across the seat. When the motorist returns to the nozzle, the static may discharge at the fill point, potentially igniting gasoline vapors and causing a flash or a small sustained fire.

7 How Static Charges are Generated
When sitting in the car, electrostatic charges are generated on the car seat and the person’s body, due to contact and movement between the clothes and the seat. When the person leaves the seat, they take half of this charge with them. As they get out of the vehicle, their body voltage rises due to this charge. Electrostatic discharge occurs as their hand approaches metal.

8 Static Fires: When are They Generated?
50% happen when the refueler gets in the vehicle during refueling, then exits and sparks a static-caused fire 29% happen when the refueler unscrews the gas cap while carrying a static charge 21% happen for unknown reasons

9 Some Theories About Why More Fires
There are several theories about why static fires at the pumps seem to be occurring more often now. One of the theories is the almost universal switch to self-serve pumps, which require millions of people who are unfamiliar with the volatility of gasoline to handle it once or twice a week. Also, vehicles today have more electronics – CD players, geopositioning systems, satellite radios, cruise control, ABS, on-board diagnostics, and electronically controlled fuel injection. Those elements, plus nylon seat covers, could create more static and a greater potential for static buildup.

10 Some Theories About Why More Fires
Other theories include: More volatile fuels – fuel meant to be sold during cold weather is blended to be more volatile Tires – less carbon and more silica in them Fill pipe cover release inside the vehicles Dissimilar automobile parts such as plastic and metal

11 Who Are the Victims of Static Electricity Fires at the Fuel Pump?
78% of victims are women who re-enter a vehicle during fueling to: Return credit card to purse Get money out of purse Check on the kids Write a check Get warm Write down odometer reading Use cell phone Apply lipstick

12 Avoiding Static Electricity At The Gas Pump
The primary way consumers can avoid static electricity problems at the gas pump is to stay outside the vehicle while refueling. The average fill-up takes only two minutes, and staying outside the vehicle will greatly reduce the likelihood of any build-up of static electricity that could be discharged at the nozzle.

13 Avoiding Static Electricity at the Gas Pump
Even when using the nozzle’s automatic hold-open latch, do not get back into your vehicle during refueling. Use only the hold-open latch provided on the gasoline nozzle. Never jam or force the hold-open latch open by using some other object, such as the gas cap. For instance, a severe injury case involved a victim jamming the nozzle open with his disposable lighter, which resulted in serious consequences.

14 Avoiding Static Electricity at the Gas Pump
If you must re-enter your vehicle during refueling, be sure to discharge any built-up static before reaching for the nozzle again. Static may be safely discharged by touching a metal part of the vehicle, such as the vehicle door, or some other metal surface away from the nozzle, with a bare hand.

15 Filling Portable Gas Cans
In recent incidents reported to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), fires spontaneously ignited when patrons attempted to fill portable gasoline containers (gas cans) in the backs of pickup trucks equipped with plastic bed liners or in cars with carpeted surfaces. Serious skin burns and other injuries resulted. These fires result from the buildup of static electricity. The insulating effect of the bed liner or carpet prevents the static charge generated by gasoline flowing into the container or other sources from grounding. The discharge of this buildup to the grounded gasoline dispenser nozzle may cause a spark and ignite the gasoline. Both grounded metal (most hazardous) and plastic gas containers have been involved in these incidents.

16 Prevention Recommendations
Filling portable containers in or on the vehicle is dangerous if the container has not been grounded. Static electricity could create a spark and start a flash fire. Recommendations for filling portable containers are on the next five slides. Never fill your container while it's in (or on) the vehicle.

17 Prevention Recommendations
Before filling, always remove the container from the vehicle and place it on the ground at a safe distance from the vehicle (this provides a path to dissipate static charge to the ground).

18 Prevention Recommendations
What's wrong with this picture? Read the bullet point at the bottom of this slide, then examine this picture. Click the blank area below for the answer. The gas can lid was removed before the man touched the gas can with the nozzle. He should have touched the can first, then removed the lid. Touch the container with the gas dispenser nozzle before removing the container lid (this provides another path to dissipate static charge to the ground).

19 Prevention Recommendations
To dissipate static charge buildup, keep the nozzle in contact with the container inlet when filling.

20 Prevention Recommendations
Manually control the nozzle valve throughout the filling process. Fill a portable container slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup and minimize spilling or splattering.

21 Prevention Recommendations
Fill container no more than 95 percent full, to allow for expansion and elimination of overflows.

22 Cell Phones & Static Electricity
Some cell phone manufacturers and oil companies have cautioned their customers to switch off their cell phones while pumping gas because of the possibility that the cell phone could act as a source of ignition similar to static electricity. Although there are no documented cases that link cell phones to fires at services stations, cell phone users are advised to take the manufacturers’ and oil companies’ warnings to heart. The risk may indeed be entirely theoretical, but you’ve nothing to lose by playing it safe and turning off the phone while fueling.

23 Avoid Distractions What's wrong with this picture? This picture shows a driver who was distracted while filling the gas can for her state-issued Chevy Malibu. What error is she making? Click the blank area below for the answer. She is filling her gas can with diesel fuel. If she poured this fuel into her Malibu, it would damage her engine components. Tip: Diesel nozzle handles are usually bright green, and their nozzle tips have a ring on the end to keep them from being mistakenly used in a vehicle designed for regular fuel. Using any device such as a cell phone, pager, or portable music player while fueling can also lead to unnecessary distractions, which can result in an accident.

24 If a Fire Starts If a fire starts while the pump nozzle is in your vehicle, do not remove the nozzle. Immediately back away from the vehicle.

25 If a Fire Starts, continued
Notify the station attendant at once so that all dispensing devices and pumps can be shut off with emergency controls. If the facility is unattended, use the emergency intercom to summon help and the emergency shutdown button to shut off the pump.

26 Safety at the Pump Guidelines
Do not smoke Turn off engine Discharge static before starting to fuel Do not re-enter your vehicle during fueling Place portable fuel containers on ground before fueling Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices Use only the hold-open latch provided on the gasoline nozzle Never allow children to use the fuel pump

27 CONCLUSION Unsafe practices at the fuel pump can and do have tragic consequences. Remember that you are dealing with highly volatile vapors that can, given a spark from static electricity, ignite with powerful force. Help protect yourself and your passengers by focusing on safe fueling procedures. Learn more about it . . . Click the link below to view video of an actual fuel pump fire caused by static. (Link courtesy of the Petroleum Equipment Institute of Tulsa, Oklahoma)


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