Life on the line at the pump


PETALING JAYA: Even a running engine can cause a blaze in a petrol station, yet there are still those who refuel while smoking or with their handphones on, posing a huge danger to those around them.

What’s worse, one irresponsible group even thought nothing of cooking with a gas stove at a petrol station, which is a very risky act, according to Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Nor Hisham Mohammad.

He said motorists should never compromise on safety and must ensure there are no sources of heat or sparks that can trigger a fire when they are filling their vehicles.

One important measure is to shut off the engine.

“This cuts off any source of heat or sparks from a running car. Also, they must monitor the petrol pump when refuelling and not leave it unattended. Keep the windows and doors closed to avoid having fuel vapour enter the car.

“A buildup of fumes can pose a fire risk. Even low concentrations of fuel vapour can ignite when there is a spark,” he said.

“The worst thing anyone can do is cook at a petrol station. Even fast food restaurants that operate within petrol stations are required to adhere to very strict fire safety rules in their kitchens. They are only allowed to use microwave ovens or electrical stoves,” he said.

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Nor Hisham also urged parents and guardians to closely supervise their young children when they are at petrol stations. Small children may be at risk of accidents due to blind spots or when they carelessly cross in front of moving vehicles.

Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia president Datuk Khairul Annuar Abdul Aziz said the public should be aware of the three elements of a fire – heat, fuel and oxygen.

“We cannot do much about oxygen, but we can keep the other two elements in check. Smoking, vaping and charging cellphones are all risky acts,” he said.

Last week, a group of friends on an outing stopped at a petrol station in Genting Highlands and decided to cook there using portable gas stoves.

Their misadventure, which was captured on video and posted on social media platforms, did not go down well with Bentong police chief Supt Zaiham Mohd Kahar – who ordered an investigation.

This led to the arrest of 15 people aged between 23 and 28 on Saturday.

The 10 men and five women were allowed bail after having their statements recorded. Three women and a man are expected to be charged at the Bentong Magistrates Court today. The others will be called as witnesses.

“Even the use of cellphones is not allowed in petrol stations; what more the open use of gas stoves. Luckily, nothing serious happened when they were cooking with fuel pumps just metres away.

“It would have been disastrous as the station was packed with cars and customers,” he said.

In a separate case on Friday, a motorist in his 40s had a close brush with death when his car exploded while he was refuelling in Repoh, Perlis.

The man suffered minor injuries but his car was badly damaged. It is believed that an active cellphone or a cellphone charger in the car ignited fuel vapour, causing the explosion.

In 2016, a 23-year-old woman died three weeks after suffering severe burns at a petrol station in Setapak. The woman was refuelling when she decided to take a call on her cellphone. The victim suffered 60% burns.

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Nor Hisham Mohammad ,

   

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