September 24, 2002


Petroleum Institutes advise how to ‘Stop Static’ during refuelling

Washington, D.C. – The American Petroleum Institute and the Petroleum Equipment Institute are joining together to remind motorists how to avoid potential problems with static electricity at the gas pump. The groups also are encouraging motorists to follow all safe refuelling practices with every fill-up.

Fall brings cool, dry air to many parts of the country — the typical climatic conditions when static electricity build-up is most likely to occur. Static electricity may build up when a motorist re-enters the vehicle during fuelling. When the motorist then returns to the vehicle fill pipe during or at the end of refuelling, the static may discharge at the fill point, potentially causing a flash fire or a small sustained fire with gasoline refuelling vapors.

Static electricity-related fires at retail gasoline outlets are extremely unusual, according to API and PEI, but in rare circumstances, these incidents have caused a few injuries and property damage.

The primary way consumers can avoid static electricity problems at the gas pump is to stay outside the vehicle while refuelling. It may be a temptation to get back in the car when it’s cold, or for any number of reasons. But the average fill-up takes only two minutes, and staying outside the vehicle will greatly minimize the likelihood of any build-up of static electricity that could be discharged at the nozzle.

In the rare event a motorist experiences a fire when refueling, leave the nozzle in the fill pipe of your vehicle and back away from the vehicle. Notify the station attendant immediately to shut off all dispensing devices and pumps with emergency controls. If the facility is unattended, use the emergency shutdown button to shut off the pump and use the emergency intercom to summon help. Leaving the pump nozzle in the vehicle will prevent any fire from becoming much more dangerous.

Motorists who cannot avoid getting back into the vehicle during refuelling should discharge any static away from the fill point upon exiting the car before going back to the pump nozzle. Static may safely be discharged by touching a metal part of the vehicle, such as the vehicle door, or some other metal surface, with a bare hand.

Consumers can minimize these and other potential fuelling hazards by following safe refuelling procedures all year long. For more information on avoiding potential problems with static electricity build-up at the pump, and other safe motor fuel refuelling, storage and handling guidelines see API’s web site at http://www.api.org/consumer , and PEI’s web site at http://www.pei.org/static.

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