Switch off engines while refuelling at fuel stations in Oman
July 25, 2015 | 9:38 PM
by Fahad Al Ghadani

Muscat: Turn off your engines or we will not refuel your tanks, is what staff at numerous fuel stations are telling motorists.

With more than five incidents of fire reported at fuel stations in June and July, the attendants are insisting that motorists switch off their vehicles before they refuel.

“It is true that we are implementing rules strictly and are telling customers to switch off their vehicle engines,” said a worker at a fuel station in Azaiba.

“When you take into consideration the high temperatures in Oman, the risk of cars catching fire at petrol stations is very high, so it’s better to be cautious, he noted.

An official at the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) also confirmed that following the recent reports of fires, several fuel stations have decided not to refuel any vehicle that keeps its engines running.

“These fuel stations were not forced by the PACDA to do so, but they decided on their own,” said the official. He, however, added that PACDA makes the same recommendations.

“Clear regulation sheets are pasted at all fuel stations but nobody follows them,” said the source. If petrol stations stop fuelling vehicles, motorists will be forced to switch off vehicle engines, he added.

“Since summer sees high temperatures, incidents of fire are triggered off easily,” the official pointed out.

More than four incidents of fire have been reported at fuel stations this year in summer.

The source at the PACDA clarified that the high temperatures have been the trigger in all those cases.

The PACDA has also called on motorists to install fire extinguishers in their vehicles and to abide by the rules.

Mark Pudwell, business development and training manager, Competence HR said, “It is encouraging to hear that fuel station staff is telling drivers to shut off their vehicle engines while refuelling.”

He explained that high octane fuels are highly inflammable and in environments such as those prevalent in Oman where ambient air temperatures are very high, particularly at this time of the year, the liquid fuel vaporises much more quickly, and creates a highly explosive environment.

Confirming that this process cannot be eliminated completely, Pudwell said, “We can do much more to reduce chances of a fire by following some simple rules.”

Pudwell suggested switching off the vehicle engine once the parking brake is applied.

“Vehicle occupants must also extinguish anything they are smoking before entering the station forecourt,” he added.

Pudwell said, “Mobile phones are intrinsically unsafe, which means they can generate static electricity that is capable of igniting fuel vapour and the oxygen in the atmosphere. So these must not be used in the forecourt at any time.”

Pudwell advised fuel pump attendants not to leave vehicles unattended during refuelling and to hold the fuel dispenser till the tank is filled.

“This ensures that in case of spillage, they can take immediate action and alert the occupants to vacate the vehicle until the spill is removed,” said Pudwell

Pointing out that most vehicle fuel tanks are situated under the rear of the vehicle and often adjacent to the exhaust systems which heat up during use, Pudwell said, “If liquid fuel reaches the hot exhaust pipes it could ignite. Switching off the vehicle during refuelling will reduce the temperature of the exhaust thus reducing the likelihood of ignition.”

He stated that all these rules are mandatory and instructions are clearly displayed by law at each station.

“Staff must be further encouraged to educate customers and receive regular approved training in the dispensing of fuel and the actions required of them in the event of spillage,” he said.

“Staff should also be discouraged from dispensing fuel to customers who refuse to comply with these simple but mandatory rules,” he said.

Reporter can be reached at [email protected]

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