Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Fire service issues safety advice for storing fuel

Essex residents are being urged not to hoard petrol and to store any containers they do have safely and securely.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has issued a safety warning following reports that motorists are filling jerry cans and other containers as well as their fuel tanks.

The Service is urging people not to panic purchase fuel, following a weekend of long queues at the pumps. It says hoarding petrol could result in fires due to petrol being stored incorrectly in homes and domestic garages.

Will Newman, Head of Prevention at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said "We urge the public against the storing of petrol and diesel due to their high flammability.

"Because of the fire risks they should be stored in approved containers, in a well-ventilated area, and never inside the home.

“Petrol is not only highly flammable but is extremely corrosive and if not stored in suitable containers it could wear away the container, causing leaks. It should be stored in a well-ventilated place and away from any source of ignition such as electrical equipment or heaters.”

The law also clearly states only 30 litres of petrol can be stored at home or at non workplace premises – without having to inform the local Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA).

The legislation allows you to store petrol in the following containers:

  • Plastic containers storing up to 10 litres
  • Metal containers storing up to 20 litres
  • Demountable fuel tank up to 30 litres

The full ECFRS advice is:

  • Fuel must not be stored in living accommodation such as kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms or under staircases. 
  • Any storage place should be well away from living areas and be secured to protect against the possibility of vandalism or arson.
  • Never fill or decant a fuel tank inside a building and remember that petrol fumes are explosive and narcotic
  • Always use secure metal or approved plastic containers which are properly marked and never put or keep petrol in unsuitable containers. Some plastic containers will dissolve when petrol is put in them
  • Never pour petrol into drains or water - it is a criminal offence to do so.
  • Do not fill a container more than the capacity printed on the label
  • Do not smoke or have naked light near to fuel
  • If you are storing petrol in a commercial premises you must ensure you are complying with the Fire Safety Order. Look at the risks involved and review your risk assessments if you are going to change the amounts of fuel you have stored

The Service is also reassuring residents that it has enough fuel supplies to run all emergency vehicles across the county.

"Will Newman added: "As always, if you need us in an emergency, we will be there for you."

Page last updated 27 September, 2021

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