One of the greatest risks to your business as the owner of a petrol station is the risk of fire. Because a petrol station’s main product is petrol and diesel fuel, the risk of fire is higher than other small businesses who do not store high quantities of flammable materials and dangerous goods.
While some may imagine that the biggest risk of fire comes from tanks or pipes that run beneath your business, this is an incorrect observation. Storage of underground tanks and pipes is typically very secure, and there is minimal risk of ignition of these materials due to thorough insulation. This means that the biggest risk of fire can most often be found on your forecourt.
From fuel delivery to risks at the pump, the ability to identify potential fire hazards on your forecourt is critical to your ability to prevent a fire emergency.
At The Pump
The biggest risk or fire hazard on your forecourt is always at the pump. Dispensing fuel means that for a period of time, the petrol or diesel is no longer safely contained, but rather exposed to open air and ignition sources.
Dripping, leaking, or fuel spills create dangerous conditions on your forecourt. As fuel sits, it is readily exposed to sparks, electricity, static, and other ignition sources. It only takes one small accident or a small spark to ignite fuel that has pooled on your forecourt.
To ensure that you mitigate your risk, check fuel nozzles and dispensers regularly. Repair any dripping, leaking, or otherwise broken equipment as soon as possible. Additionally, encourage patrons to report any fuel spills or accidents to petrol station staff immediately.
As mentioned, the largest opportunity for risk is present when fuel is being exchanged or dispensed. Exchange of fuel happens not only on the forecourt, but during fuel delivery as well. To reduce fire hazards, all fuel deliveries should be supervised by suitably experienced personnel.
While uncommon, fuel leaks are incredibly dangerous and should be addressed with immediate corrective action. Leaks from underground tanks can spread quickly across large distances, and petrol vapours can spread into basements, pipes, and public drains and buildings. This means that not only is your forecourt and business at risk from a fuel leak, but your community as well. Monitoring and checking your tanks for compliance and functionality will ensure that no leaks occur at your site.
Without an ignition source, fuel poses little risk to your business, employees, or customers. While some ignition sources such as electricity are a part of owning a business, others can and should be easily avoided. Sources of ignition such as sparks from cigarettes should be kept off your forecourt at all times.
To encourage safe behavior, ensure your business’s signage is clear. Designate safe areas at your site for activities such as smoking, and encourage your staff to keep an eye on customers to ensure safety guidelines are being followed.
Other Fire Hazards
Not all fire hazards on your service station’s forecourt are so obvious. While petrol and diesel fuel remain the areas of biggest concern, other materials can present risk as well. Items such as rubbish disposal, bins, electrical equipment, heaters, and even cardboard are all flammable materials that may pose an increased risk of fire.
Just as you would exercise caution when handling fuel, ensure that trash is disposed of properly, electrical equipment is regularly tested, and that cardboard or paper materials are kept away from sources of ignition.
ServoPro members are able to fully train their staff through our online training courses, ServoSkills. Get in touch with us to enrol your staff in ServoSkills.