Fires highlight explosion risks at petrol stations in Oman
June 17, 2015 | 9:51 PM
by Rahul Das

Muscat: More than three incidents of vehicles catching fire at petrol stations in the last 15 days have once again highlighted the fire and explosion risks while refuelling.

On June 3, a car caught fire while refuelling in Bidbid at around 8 a.m.

In another incident, on June 2, a car caught fire at a petrol station in Yanqul.

This Tuesday, two people were injured and some vehicles were damaged in a fire at a petrol station in Al Ghubra.

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Daryle Hardie, CEO of Safety First Oman, said that it was shocking to learn so many incidents have happened during the last fortnight.

“I believe there are a specific set of rules and my advice is to follow these rules and regulations,” he told the Times of Oman.

He also said that there are several statutory warnings like switching off mobile phones and vehicle engines, and not smoking, etc. while filling petrol, which customers tend to violate most of time. “Not many customers heed these warnings, which are displayed prominently at all fuel stations for their own safety,” he said.

The PACDA also advised motorists to exercise caution while filling petrol every day.

“People should switch off the vehicle’s engine while refuelling, and they should also not smoke or talk on mobile phones. The petrol station attendants should also ensure that the fuel pump nozzle is disconnected from the fuel tank before the vehicle leaves,” it said.

Mark Pudwell, business development and training manager, Competence HR, said that one worrying issue arising out the recent petrol station fires is the apparent lack of conformity to regulations.

“Staff at petrol stations must receive appropriate and regular training to ensure that they understand the risks, how to mitigate them and what to do in the event of a fire. Another area of concern is that of educating customers. Notices are clearly displayed at all petrol pumps regarding switching off car engines, no smoking, and not using mobile phones, and customers who flout these vitally important regulations must be reminded by the pump staff without fear of being abused or ridiculed.

“The most contentious issue regarding the dispensing of petrol is the method of delivery from the pump to the car. All pump dispensers appear to be fitted with a trigger lock which allows the person dispensing the fuel to leave the pump connected to the car tank and walk away to attend to other customers. Not only is this risking a large fuel spill but also the lives of those in the car and outside. These locks cannot and should not be depended upon to function correctly at all times and at no time, should the attendant leave the pump while the fuel is flowing. This is not permitted anywhere in Europe and pumps are not fitted with these locks deliberately.

“The entire process and level of equipment needs immediate review in order to protect valuable assets and lives,” he added.

Workers in garages say loose battery cables in cars are also a major cause of fires.

“Loose cables and old wiring can cause sparks, which is especially dangerous if it occurs near oil pipelines. Bare wires are extremely dangerous and can definitely ignite a fire. Fuel pumps that are not fixed properly can also be a cause,” said a mechanic.

Poor maintenance and overheating of engines are other causes of fires in summer.

“I have seen people neglect coolant leaks, simply filling water in the radiator when the temperature starts rising. This will ultimately lead to the engine overheating at some point and cause a fire,” he explained.

He also said a fire can erupt in a car in a matter of seconds, especially if it is near the fuel pump, adding, “Motorists should keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times. You never know when it will be required.”

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