Storing fuel for generators and power tools can be extremely dangerous without some precautions. While this is true any day, natural disasters and other events resulting in supply chain or distribution interruptions can heighten such dangers. Improper transportation, storage and disposal of gasoline can create serious health, safety and environmental hazards. Gasoline is one of the most dangerous substances found in residential dwellings.
Chief Bob Royal, IAFC Hazardous Materials Committee chair and chief of emergency operations in the Harris County (Tex.) Fire Marshal’s Office, offers some safety guidelines for the transportation and storage of gasoline:
- Store gasoline in an airtight approved storage container holding 5 gallons or less.
- Gasoline should not be transported or stored in open top containers or in containers that are not approved for gasoline storage. Plastic milk jugs, glass containers, water jugs, or styrofoam containers should not be used. Approved plastic and metal gasoline cans are available at hardware stores and other retail outlets.
- Transporting gasoline in a personal auto can be very dangerous. Only airtight approved containers should be used. Gasoline containers should not be transported in the passenger area of the vehicle.
- Storage at a residence should be limited to a total of 25 gallons. In a multi-family dwelling, the 25 gallons recommendation is per structure, NOT per family.
- If possible, store gasoline in a cool, dry, well-ventilated and secure area entirely separate from the residence, such as a shed or detached garage.
- Storage within a residence should be limited to rooms with fire-rated separation from the rest of the house, such as a garage or a storage room with an opening to the outside. Gasoline should never be stored in the same area containing a gas water heater or air handler equipment for the rest of the building.
- Do not store gasoline near appliances such as clothes dryers or water pumps.
- Store well away from generators and cars.
- Keep gasoline containers out of reach of children and away from pets to prevent accidental poisoning.
- Be sure that gasoline containers have child resistant caps.
- Leftover gasoline should never be poured down the drain, dumped on the ground, or thrown in the trash.
- It is illegal to pour gasoline into a ditch, storm drain, stream, creek, or marsh.
- Portable fire extinguishers should be available in all areas where fuels are being stored and transferred.
About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more