Getting More Gas? Understand How to Safely Dispense and Store Flammable Fuels!

Fairfax County Fire Dept.

Gas PumpThe temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline due to a cyberattack has caused many people to purchase extra gasoline – dispensing it into portable containers to store a for later use. It’s important to remember that gas is highly flammable and a significant fire hazard can occur if the gas is not dispensed or stored properly. 

Please understand that purchasing more gasoline than you need, or will use, in the coming days may very well prolong disruptions. Please fill-up responsible.

If you must purchase extra gasoline, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department urges all residents to follow the below safety guidance from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs as it relates to dispensing flammable fuels into a portable container and storing properly:

  • Flammable fuels should not be dispensed into portable containers over 6 gallons, and the containers should be listed and approved for the flammable liquid intended for the portable container. 
  • Portable containers should have a tight closure with a screwed or spring-loaded cover to prevent spills and vapors from escaping. 
  • When transporting gasoline in a portable container make sure it is secured against tipping and sliding, and never leave it in direct sunlight or in the trunk of a car.
  • Flammable fuel should never be dispensed into portable cargo tanks or any other container not listed for flammable liquids. 
  • Never fill a container while located in the trunk, passenger area of a car or in the bed of a pickup truck. 
  • All containers should be place on the ground and clear of any possible ignition sources such as the exhaust from a vehicle. 
  • Fill portable containers slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup and minimize spilling or splattering. Keep the nozzle in contact with the rim of the container opening while refueling. Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion.
  • If gasoline spills on the container, make sure that it has evaporated before you place the container in your vehicle. Report spills to the station attendant.
  • Never smoke around flammable fuels. 

For additional reference, the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code outlines the specific requirements for fuel dispensing and storage:  

  • 2304.4 Dispensing Into Portable Containers
  • 2304.4.1 Approved Containers Required
  • 2304.4.2 Nozzle Operation
  • 2304.4.3 Location of Containers Being Filled


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