Automotive

Published on September 3rd, 2020 | by Joshua Chin

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Man Caught On Fire While Pumping Petrol

Leaving the engine running while pumping petrol should strictly be advised against. 

A man who left his engine running while pumping petrol has caused a small fire in a Seri Kembangan petrol station late last week. 

The small fire created had left burn blisters on the victim’s hand and feet, and has caused minor fire damage on his Audi A3. Paint on the rear door of the A3 has been observed to have bubbled and the damage to the fuel pump appears to be more significant, with greater charring seen on the petrol pump. 

According to Assistant Director of Selangor Fire Operation, Hafisham Mohd. Noor, the blaze has destroyed 30% of the petrol pump surface and 10% of the Audi’s rear door. Thankfully though, no one else was injured and the fire was able to be put out relatively quickly. No further damage was reported apart from the driver also sustaining scratches on his head.

That being said, this incident serves as a grim reminder to obey the instructions clearly visible at the petrol pump and switch off your engines while refuelling. 

There is a very good reason as to why leaving the car engine running, talking on your mobile phone and smoking is prohibited near the pumps. This is because while refuelling, there is a high concentration of fuel vapour around, that when exposed to a spark will ignite easily and start the inevitable fire. 

It is easy to see where a spark can originate from a lit cigarette, any embers from the tip when in contact with the fuel vapour could easily start a sizeable flame. However, static discharge from the still-running electrical systems of a running engine and a mobile phone could also easily be the spark that starts a potential explosion.

Petrol especially is both very volatile (turns into gas easily) and very flammable. If there happens to be an errant spark around, boom goes the vaporised petrol and thus it is time to break out the fire extinguisher. 

Luckily, there are fail-safes at the fuel pumps that automatically cut-off fuel supply in the unlikely case of a fire breaking out. However, it is obviously the safer route to maintain these best practices while refuelling. 

Remember that even leaving the ignition on is not good enough as the car’s electrical systems like the radio and the air-con might still be running. The car should be completely switched off when refuelling.

After all, it really doesn’t take that long to refuel a car anyway. The passengers within can stand a couple of minutes without the air-con. And if they still complain, maybe remind them that there is almost certainly at least 20,000 litres of highly flammable liquid beneath the petrol station that may go off any time if sensible precautions are not taken. 

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About the Author

Automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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