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Is static electricity a suspected cause of a reported increase in gas station refueling fires? Static electricity is the cause of an increase in gas station refueling fires. Static electricity can cause fires at gas stations.
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Static electricity was actually the cause of a number of gas station refueling fires. His company has researched cases of these fires.
His results were very surprising: This is why they are seldom involved in these types of fires. Some resulting in extensive damage to the vehicle, to the station, and to the customer. This way the static from your body will be discharged before you ever remove the nozzle. As I mentioned earlier, The Petroleum Equipment Institute, along with several other companies now, are really trying to make the public aware of this danger. You can find out more information by going to http: I ask you to please send this information to ALL your family and friends, especially those who have kids in the car with them while pumping gas.
If this were to happen to them, they may not be able to get the children out in time. Unlike many Internet-circulated warnings, there is a fair bit to this one — fires at gas pumps are on the rise, and static electricity is considered one of the likely culprits in this increase. For starters, although Robert N. Out of cases, almost all of them were women.
More specifically, neither the summary nor any of the incident reports makes any statement about or identifies the gender of persons involved in gas station fires. Almost all cases involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas, when finished and they went back to pull the nozzle out the fire started, as a result of static.
The PEI summary states: Twenty 20 reports described fires before the refueling process began, when the fueler touched the gas cap or the area close to it after leaving the vehicle. Twenty-nine 29 fires occurred when the fueler returned to the vehicle during the refueling process and then touched the nozzle after leaving the vehicle. Fifteen 15 fires do not involve either of these two fact situations. We received insufficient information on seventeen 17 fires reported by NHTSA to confidently categorize them.
In other words, 29 out of 81 cited cases of gas station fires involved fires reported to have occurred when drivers returned to their cars during the refueling process. Whether this figure is representative of all persons involved in gas station fires and whether footwear is a contributory factor to gas station fires is not stated. Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished.
As noted above, neither the PEI summary nor the cited incident reports makes any statement about or identifies the gender of persons involved in gas station fires. Are gas station fires caused by static discharge a real danger to motorists? Why fires touched off by static electricity may have increased significantly of late remains undetermined, however, and groups such as the PEI are investigating several possible explanations: Fuel chemistry Has the chemical composition of gasoline changed in a way that the conductivity of the fuel has also changed?
Finish of the driveway or forecourt Is the paved surface of the refueling area sufficiently dissipative? Tires Tires are being made with less carbon conductive and more silica non-conductive. Does this make a difference?
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We hear that this can be a problem even if the vehicle is grounded. Plastic filler inlets Today, some fuel tank filler necks are made of non-conductive plastics with a metal trapdoor opening.
Some are connected to molded fiberglass fuel tanks. Could refueling transmit a charge to the insulated plastic filler neck that, in turn, might cause a spark to jump to the grounded nozzle?
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Customers re-entering their vehicles during refueling An electrostatic charge is generated through friction between clothing and the car seat to such an extent that electrostatic discharges to the vehicle body or to the filling nozzle are possible, especially if the motorist is wearing rubber-soled shoes.
News reports of gas station fires caused by static electricity are a mixed bag of claims, warnings, and skepticism. In , for example, automaker BMW announced a recall to refit cars they said had been responsible for two static-related fires: BMW AG said Monday it is recalling all of its new Mini cars sold in Britain to fix a design fault that already has caused two fires — days before the relaunched classic car goes on sale across Europe.
The improved grounding is to prevent static electricity from producing a spark when the fuel nozzle is inserted into the gas tank, BMW spokesman Rudolf Probst said. The company blamed static electricity for igniting fuel vapor and causing two small fires, one in a car at a dealership and the other during testing. Five children inside the van escaped safely.
The Macon Fire Department said the fire probably began when the motorist touched the nozzle at the end of fueling, making a static spark that ignited fumes. She was wearing a wool sweater and told firefighters she had been bothered by static all day.
In Hannibal, miles north of St. Louis, a pickup was damaged Dec. The motorist dropped the flaming nozzle onto the ground, spreading the flames. The spark could have come from him sliding across his seat.
Last year, state inspectors investigated 14 gas station fires. In each case, customers got out from their vehicles, placed gasoline nozzles in the fuel tanks, began fueling and then got back into their vehicles. When the pumps shut off, the customers got out of their vehicles and reached for the gas nozzles, causing a spark that ignited the vapors, Hooker said. To reduce the risk of static electricity fires, Hooker said motorists should touch the metal part of their vehicle doors while getting out to put gas in their vehicles.
That should discharge any built-up static electricity before the fueling begins, he said. After fueling, motorists should again touch their vehicles far away from the gas nozzles before returning the nozzles to the pumps, Hooker said.
Do you know how to use a portable fuel container safely? He is a past chairman of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association.
Grounding, simply put, provides a path for an electric current to discharge safely — the electricity is dissipated in the ground, when a portable fuel container is grounded. A man filling his motor home with gasoline narrowly escaped serious injury yesterday after an explosion in the gas tank set his vehicle on fire, sent nearby pumps up in flames and charred the exterior of the gas station.
He admitted his explanation might cause concern to people who pump gas. Like Brozenick, McLean said he was also unconvinced by the static electricity argument. He said heating units inside the motor home might have contributed to the fire. During recent months, reports of flash fires during refueling have increased so much that industry executives and engineers find it necessary to alert the public.
The primary culprit appears to be static electricity. In many cases, the victims got in and out of their vehicles during fueling. Rubbing against fabric creates an electric charge just like the one that causes a shock when you touch something metal after shuffling across carpet. Injuries have included burns and singed hair. At least one woman was killed when she removed a flaming nozzle from a gas tank and accidentally doused herself with gasoline, according to Bob Renkes, executive vice president of the Petroleum Equipment Institute.
Considering that Americans pump gasoline into their cars more than 16 billion times per year, flash fires at the tank are rare. Metro Atlantans have even less to worry about. Travel season is near, however, so Atlantans should still beware. Unlike recent warnings about cell phones igniting fires at gas pumps — a case of which has never been confirmed — the static-induced fires are well documented. Tips for safe refueling: If you must re-enter your vehicle while refueling, discharge the static electricity by touching a metal part of the outside of your car away from the filling point before touching and removing the gas nozzle.
Always turn your engine off before refueling. Never smoke, light matches or use a lighter while refueling. To avoid spills, do not overfill or top off your gas tank. Let the fuel dispenser shut off automatically and leave the nozzle in the tank opening for six to eight seconds so the gasoline in the tank neck can settle down and any remaining gas in the nozzle can drip out of it into the tank.
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