Friday 30 March 2012

Union slams government’s ‘jerrycan’ advice

The Fire Brigades Union and fire chiefs have united in criticising comments by cabinet secretary Francis Maude, in which he suggested that motorists could build up stores of petrol in jerrycans.

The union warned that people storing significant quantities of petrol in the event of a tanker drivers’ strike would ‘massively increase’ the risk of fire and explosion. “This is not sensible advice and people should be discouraged from doing so,” said Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary. The general public does not properly understand the fire and explosion risk of storing fuel even if it was done sensibly. Those without garages may be tempted to store fuel in the home. In the event of a fire in the house or a neighbouring property it would be disastrous.”

Mr Wrack went on to say that it was illegal to store more than 10 litres of petrol in two purpose-made plastic containers in the home. “There is a real danger the public will start storing fuel in inappropriate ways if the Government is encouraging panic buying and storage. This advice is wrong and must be withdrawn.”

In a statement, the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) said:

“As the professional voice of the fire and rescue service we would advise people not to store large amounts of fuel in garages, due to the increased risks to occupiers and firefighters.”

Dave Curry, CFOA prevention and protection director added: "We would like to ensure that members of the public who are considering storing petrol on their properties are adhering to the following legal requirements:

  • Do not fill a container more than the capacity printed on the label
  • Do not store petrol inside a domestic premises
  • Store petrol in a place that is not part of or attached to a building used as a dwelling
  • Petrol must be stored in approved plastic or metal containers of the sort that can typically be purchased from filling stations
  • You can store up to 30 litres of petrol in two, appropriate 10 litre metal containers and two, appropriate 5 litre plastic containers.

“Petrol is a dangerous substance which, when present can dramatically increase the risk of fire. CFOA recommends members of the public keep any storage of petrol to a minimum.”

According to the HSE website, the Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc) Regulations 1929 and the Petroleum Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982 limit the amount of petrol that can be kept in a domestic garage or within six metres of a building. The limit is a maximum of two suitable metal containers each of a maximum capacity of 10 litres and two plastic containers (which have to be of an approved design) each of a maximum capacity of five litres.

“Under no circumstances should the petrol containers be stored in the home itself,” adds the HSE.

Speaking last night on BBC2’s Newsnight, transport minister Mike Penning – a former firefighter – said Mr Maude had made a mistake in advising people to store petrol in jerrycans as he had misunderstood the size of jerrycans, which is 20 litres.

Woman suffers 40% bruns decanting petrol

On Friday, BBC News reported that a woman had suffered 40% burns decanting petrol in her kitchen for her daughter who had run out of fuel.

It is understood that the womans cooker was alight when she was decanting the fuel, and the fumes ignighted.

This underlines the importance of only handling petrol in a well ventilated area.

Source: Info4Fire

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