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Accident of the week – Fuel station fire

As promised last week, today we’ll analyze the first from a series of ten common accidents caught on camera. We’ll show you the movie, courtesy of youtube, and we’ll tell you:

1) Why did the accident happen

2) How the accident could have been prevented

3) How to react if the accident happens

This week’s accident is a hot and potentially explosive one. Literally. Check the movie.



As you can see, the woman gets out of the vehicle, she puts the fuel nozzle in and waits the gas to pour into the fuel tank. She goes inside the car and when she gets out to put the fuel nozzle back it catches fire. She takes the nozzle out and gets away from the vehicle.

1) Why did the accident happen

The short answer is: static electricity.

If you take a closer look to the movie, when she gets out of the car, she naturally touches the door. This way, any potential static electricity is discharged. Also, we don’t know what kind of boots she’s wearing, but if they’re not rubber, static electricity can also discharge to the ground.

She puts the nozzle in but she makes a mistake: she goes back in the car and moves about. At this moment, static electricity is built. Unfortunately for her, when she gets out of the car the second time, she’s in a more comfortable position so she doesn’t touch the car anymore.

She is fully charged with static electricity! When she touches the nozzle, the static discharges and creates a spark. Even the tiniest invisible spark can  ignite the highly flammable and volatile gas vapors. She does another mistake when, panicked, she takes the nozzle out of the car.

2) How the accident could have been prevented

Gas vapors are highly volatile and flammable. Even the tiniest spark can ignite them with potentially catastrophic consequences.

You have to make sure that you touch the body of the car or another object that is not in the immediate vicinity of the gas pump nozzle to discharge your static electricity. Naturally, without maybe even thinking about it, you prevent the accident by touching the body of the car when you get out and close the door.

3) How to react if the accident happens

Do not take the nozzle out of the car!

If a fire catches, the gas tank will not blow up! The gas vapors from the vicinity of the nozzle will burn out quickly and the fire will not propagate inside the gas tank because it doesn’t have oxygen to burn.

Being panicked and under pressure, it’s possible that when you take the nozzle out, you also press the trigger and gas will pour out of the gas pump and ignite instantly from the fire that is already burning. . You will then have a mini-flamethrower that can set fire to the entire gas station and result into fatal consequences.

Remember: take care about static electricity around fuel pumps and stay calm if something happens! Touch the car’s metal body when you get out. You can do that by naturally helping yourself get out or by closing the door. Don’t pull the nozzle out of the car! The fire will burn out quickly!

Don’t forget: next week we’ll analyze another accident caught on camera!

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