Storing petrol - a warning from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
By Raviliouse | Thursday, March 29, 2012, 12:26
With the impending threat of a fuel tankers strike and contradictory advice being issued by the members of the government East Sussex Fire and Rescue on Thursday issued their own advice on storing petrol safely.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Andy Reynolds, ESFRS Director of Protection and Prevention said: "At present there is no reason to believe that there will be any petrol shortage and our advice to members of the public is not to store any additional supplies. However, for those people that do, please remember that petrol is classed as highly flammable and produces explosive vapour at room temperature. Treat it with care."
On Wednesday Cabinet Minister Francis Maude's advice for drivers to store petrol - "maybe a little bit in the garage as well in a jerrycan" – a move criticised by the Fire Brigades Union and ESFRS who cautioned that the storage of petrol is highly regulated by law because any leak of petrol can lead to an explosion or serious fire, particularly when a leak occurs within a building.
To avoid the primary causes of leaks, it is illegal for petrol stations to allow customers to fill any container which has not been designed and constructed for the purpose and which does not display the approved wording and warning symbols.
It is also an offence (this time by the customer) to put more petrol in the container than the capacity of the container printed on the label. This is not unnecessary interference by Parliament - a mistake as simple as filling the container to the brim can place that person and their family in deadly danger. An air gap is needed because petrol expands so much when it gets warm (on a hot day or in a centrally heated house) that it can easily rupture the container and cause a fire or explosion.
The amount of petrol that can be stored in a car is also restricted. This is to limit the scale of any fire that could result from a road accident. The maximum amount of petrol allowed in a car is two metal containers of 10 litres capacity or less plus two plastic containers of five litres capacity or less.
At home you can store up to 30 litres of petrol in two metal containers of ten litres capacity or less plus two plastic containers of five litres capacity or less. The store must be in a garage or other safe place. Because petrol is highly flammable, on no account must it be stored inside a house or flat.
All containers must be of the approved type for the storage of petrol.
You must not store more than a total of fifteen litres of petrol in any containers without informing the Fire Authority and in some cases you may be required to apply for a Petroleum Licence.
Lee Howell, President of The Chief Fire Officers' Association, said: "Public safety is our overriding concern. We would like to remind people to focus on their own safety at all times."
Dave Curry, CFOA Prevention and Protection Director added: "We would like to ensure that members of the public who are considering storing petrol on their properties are adhering to the following legal requirements."
· Do not fill a container more than the capacity printed on the label
· Do not store petrol inside a domestic premises
· Store petrol in a place that is not part of or attached to a building used as a dwelling
· Petrol must be stored in approved plastic or metal containers of the sort that can typically be purchased from filling stations
· You can store up to 30 litres of petrol in two appropriate 10 litre metal containers and two appropriate 5 litre plastic containers.