This is an article from the December Bulletin Issue written by Brian Humm, Editor of The Bulletin.

With the recent panic buying of fuel following press reports of shortages it reminded me of a similar situation a few years ago when the road tanker drivers were rumoured to be going on strike. This resulted in a very busy time for the petroleum group of the London Fire Brigade with numerous phone calls and email enquiries as to the types of containers that could be used for petrol storage. This even led to a video being made by the brigade to upload to youtube showing different cans, sizes and markings required etc. It certainly caused quite a stir.

The general public often gets confused with the type and size of cans that they may use. If you use the wrong type, however, it could lead to a major incident; there was a severe fire and explosion a few years ago that occurred in Lincolnshire which resulted in two fatalities. On this occasion the wrong type of container was filled with petrol, the petrol vapour expanded overnight affecting the non-petrol resistant rubber seal in the cap and then permeating through the lid. This resulted in the vapour flowing from the container into a confined office area. When the employees came to work in the morning and opened the door they immediately turned on the light. The vapour by this time had settled within the lower and upper explosive limit for petrol (1.4% to 7.6% in air) which meant that there was a large explosion and subsequent fire and the two employees were sadly fatally injured.

Following the introduction of the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations (PCR) in 2014, which give Petroleum Enforcement Authorities (PEA’s) powers over domestic storage (Part 3 and Schedule 2 and 3 of the PCR) the HSE has produced guidance on their website in regards to type, size, appropriate marking and testing criteria of portable petrol storage containers. This document is a must-have for PEA’s and forecourt operators to at least be aware of it, if not own your own copy. It is available if you follow the link shown here:

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