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Old 11-22-2006, 10:05 PM   #1
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Safe Fueling - Static electricity

I belong to the Specialty Vehicle Association of BC and the latest newsletter has a very good article about a problem The Petroleum Equipment Institute has identified as a major risk. You can read the information yourself at PEI's website ( http://www.pei.org/ ) Once on the site scroll down to "Safe Refueling". Very good info and worth sharing with others you know who are not Forum members.

Barry
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:30 PM   #2
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Question: Can a spark from a cell phone start a fire? Should you turn off cell phones while fueling your vehicle?
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:37 PM   #3
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Although there's an article in the same publication from Shell that says a cell can cause a spark, the website (PEI) mentioned it and says they are not aware of that. I'd rather error on the side of caution so I leave my cell in the car when I'm out getting gas.
The article says "Shell Oil Company recently issued a warning after three incidents in which mobile phones (cell phones) ignited fumes during fueling operations". There's a bunch more detail but one thing that is mentioned is mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition. This is not on any official Shell letterhead, it's an article in the newsletter so I can't provide any further detail than what it says. Hope that helps.
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Old 11-23-2006, 01:34 AM   #4
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I know that movie.
But if it was a major risk there should be fires's how many times a day , month or year ?
I see the chance something happening like that again close to 0.
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Old 11-23-2006, 05:02 AM   #5
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My favorite is the attendant asks you how much you need and starts filling your tank with a cigarette in his mouth
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Old 11-23-2006, 06:10 AM   #6
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Arrow Safe fueling-Static electricity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lipets
My favorite is the attendant asks you how much you need and starts filling your tank with a cigarette in his mouth
Truthfully, I have not had the displeasure of seeing anyone smoking at the pump. If I did see one approaching with a cigarette, my vehicle would be in motion. While it is next to impossible to make a determination what caused the spark, a frame by frame review could only help to show point of ignition. This however would not determine what actually cause the spark.
Cell phones are made of plastic, we rub them on our hair. Guess what, a static charge. Certain fabric in our clothes can develop static charges, especially in low humidity.
It is a common sense that when you refueling you should not bounce in and out of the car, because you may pick up static charge. When you return to the nozzle you will discharge it, because the nozzle is grounded.
There are warnings displayed on pumps about it.

The craze of cell phone use is out of hand, creating most rude society out of us. Most, are not even aware of their conduct. Annoying two way's such as Nextel with foul language coming loud and clear in public places. Silence in the libraries is a thing of a past. Is there something wrong with our lives? You bet you.
We survived quite well without them for centuries. If you must be on the cell phone while fueling up, there is something wrong with your life also.

Is it possible to ignite fumes with a cell phone? If you can statically charge a comb, why not with a cell phone? Perhaps it may be difficult to prove, but I will not try to test that theory. Fumes are heavy, as a rule, and eventually find their way down, once the escaping pressure from the tank stops pushing them up.
I would tend to believe that ignition occurred at the nozzle and then flared up. It does not take much to play it safe, especially when the price to pay is much to high for any of us to afford. Thanks, "Boatdoc"
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Old 11-23-2006, 07:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoane
Question: Can a spark from a cell phone start a fire? Should you turn off cell phones while fueling your vehicle?
Mythbusters couldn't do it....and they tried. Personally I think the cellphone-fire link is an urban legend. The one video I have seen that supposedly was a cellphone sparked fire appeared to me to be a static sparked fire. The woman was talking on the cellphone, started the pump, GOT BACK INTO THE VEHICLE then got back out while still talking on the cellphone, reached for the nozzle and boom. Looked like static charge transfer to me. You are also at risk if anybody else is at the pump, you never know when someone's battery might explode, they might have one of those Chevy Impalas from back in the mid 80's that were prone to catch on fire while cranking up, they might have a bad plug wire and a leaking fuel line...I had a Chevy pickup catch on fire that way.. The only 100% safe way to refuel is DON'T. Ride a bike...never heard of one of those catching on fire

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Old 11-23-2006, 08:48 AM   #8
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I saw the same episode and they even had a hard time with static electrisity. It is interesting that people get back into their cars when fueling. The numbers show that women do it twice as much as men. As far as the cell phone, who the heck are these people talking to?
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Old 11-23-2006, 08:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azflycaster
I saw the same episode and they even had a hard time with static electrisity. It is interesting that people get back into their cars when fueling. The numbers show that women do it twice as much as men. As far as the cell phone, who the heck are these people talking to?
Given the price of gas in the recent past they may be talking to their banker to arrange a loan to pay for their fuel?

I suspect that the cell phone issue will always be a question. I understand that a lot of women get out to start the pump, then reach back inside the car to get either their purse or their credit card out of their purse where typically a male would have that already in his wallet on his person.

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Old 11-23-2006, 09:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
Mythbusters couldn't do it....and they tried. Personally I think the cellphone-fire link is an urban legend. The one video I have seen that supposedly was a cellphone sparked fire appeared to me to be a static sparked fire. The woman was talking on the cellphone, started the pump, GOT BACK INTO THE VEHICLE then got back out while still talking on the cellphone, reached for the nozzle and boom. Looked like static charge transfer to me. You are also at risk if anybody else is at the pump, you never know when someone's battery might explode, they might have one of those Chevy Impalas from back in the mid 80's that were prone to catch on fire while cranking up, they might have a bad plug wire and a leaking fuel line...I had a Chevy pickup catch on fire that way.. The only 100% safe way to refuel is DON'T. Ride a bike...never heard of one of those catching on fire

Aaron
Reason for my reply is not to dispute your theory.
Myth Busteres did not have the guts to do it with partially filled tank and standing over the refueling nozzle. If they did I would consider them dumb heroes.
It is impossible in the aftermath, to determine where the static charge originated. It may have traveled down the clothing to the nozzle.
Nozzles are grounded, and any static charge which may be on your person
is grounded as soon as you touch the trigger on the nozzle. However when you walk away from it you may pick up a high static charge, which can
discharge when you touch the nozzle again.
It must be said as well that a percentage of concentration of air and fuel has much to do with ease of ignition. Adding other circumstances such as leaking fuel or bad plug wire is a high risk and we all know this, the issue is static charge. Since I do not have to answer my cell phone while refueling, that person may have to wait until I return their call. Myth Busters do tests under controlled conditions and away from possible bodily harm.
If my knowledge had to depend on the Myth Busters findings, I wonder if I would still be alive. Thanks, "Boatdoc"
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Old 11-23-2006, 09:55 AM   #11
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I think another reason women are more apt to be involved in Static started fires is the type and material of clothing they wear. Nylons, polyesters, etc. Most men are wearing natural fibers, like cottons and wools which are less prone to static build up and discharge...

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Old 11-23-2006, 12:39 PM   #12
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I like Snopes

There have been a couple of Snopes urban legend cases on this subject lately.
Static electricity is mentioned as a probable cause of most of the fill up fire incidents.
They also mention that there are billions of fill-ups each year and few explosions.
Statistics are on our side!
However, I must say I have seen some cars that refuel with the engine running. This seems to me to be a hazardous procedure.
regards
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Old 11-23-2006, 07:38 PM   #13
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Yesterday morning I was filling up and a young guy pulled in and got out of his Explorer with a lit cigarette in his mouth, put the hose in his filler tube, got back in his truck to get his wallet and went in to pay for his gas before pumping...all with the lit cigarette in his mouth. And all of this with his stereo blaring semi obscene lyrics. I went over and closed his truck door. I finished pumping my gas and left. BTW, did I mention he had several body piercings in locations above the neck? I guess you don't have to have a high level of intelligence or manners to have a driver's license!
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Old 11-23-2006, 07:45 PM   #14
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I've heard that you should never fill a gas can while it is in the bed of a pickup due to static electricity - always place the can on the ground. I was fueling once and my cell rang, while talking, the guy inside the store was yelling at me to hang up. I had never heard of this before. BTW, I was using the diesel pump.
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