Advice on Storing Fuel in Sheds

Advice issued after stored petrol causes garden shed to explode!

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is issuing advice on the use and storage of petrol in homes and gardens after a shed was destroyed by a petrol vapour explosion.

The explosion, which happened in the area of West Yorkshire, was captured on dramatic CCTV footage. The large garden shed was completely destroyed when a small amount of petrol, stored in appropriate containers and garden machinery, leaked. It is believed that the petrol vapours were ignited by a faulty fluorescent light fitting causing the explosion. The remaining fuel was ignited causing a rapid developing fire that quickly engulfed the remains of the shed. Due to the extent of fire damage Fire Investigation teams were unable to establish how the leak occurred. Fire Investigation Officer Jamie Lister said: “In light of what could have been a potentially devastating incident, WYFRS would like to reiterate the safety considerations around storage and use of petrol in homes and gardens. “Petrol produces a vapour which is extremely flammable and must be treated with utmost care.

To create a potentially explosive atmosphere there only needs to be a small amount of petrol vapour present, as little as 1.4%. Here are some sensible precautions to keep you safe when storing/using petrol in and around the home and garden:

Do use only approved, labelled containers with correctly fitting lids
Do store in a well ventilated area
Do only store the minimum amount you need (2 x 5 litre plastic containers is the maximum allowed limit)
Do use a funnel/spout when decanting/refuelling and only do this outside
Do keep containers secure to protect against inappropriate use
Do replace any damaged or leaking containers/equipment

Don’t store petrol/petrol operated equipment in living accommodation
Don’t smoke or use naked flames when handling petrol/petrol operated equipment
Don’t overfill containers to avoid any spillages
Don’t fill containers to the brim, fuels expand and vapour can build up in hot weather
Don’t store containers in direct sunlight
Don’t use petrol to light bonfires as this can potentially cause a petrol vapour explosion.

ALSO If you have petrol powered equipment make sure they are stored in an upright position. If they are fitted with a fuel tap on the underside of the fuel tank then make sure this is in the off position to prevent leaks from perished fuel lines.

Please note – the advice on the amount of fuel allowed to be stored is based on plastic containers. Restrictions are different for the amount of diesel as this is less flammable and we also recommend storing any kind of fuel in Steel Jerry Cans, as these are more robust than plastic and will not allow the fumes to permeate through the walls of the container. 

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