SIBU: Switching on handphones or using them at petrol stations is risky as they can ignite fuel vapours.
As such, fire safety professionals advise vehicle owners to immediately turn off their handphones upon reaching fuel stations to safeguard their safety and that of others.
“We have to take extra care when doing refuelling. First and foremost, we must remember to switch off our handphones.
“The device can give sparks (not visible to the naked eyes) and when it comes into contact with fuel vapours, the reaction can cause a fire,” said Major (rtd) Kamarulzaman Musa yesterday.
Kamarulzaman, who is also chief executive officer (CEO) of KLIA Professional and Management College, warned vehicle owners not to take safety for granted.
“It is a risky affair to assume that such incident is unlikely to occur,” he cautioned when asked for reasons why handphones had to be switched off while refuelling at fuel stations.
Supporting his view, Dr Ting Chek Ming said handphones could be a source of ignition when in contact with fuel vapours emitted by pumps.
Ting, who specialises in radar remote sensing, antennas and radiation, also warned about static electricity build-up at fuel stations.
The former university lecturer, who spent some 10 years doing research work in the United States, said vehicle owners could be penalised if they failed to abide by the safety precautions there.
Ting, who holds a PhD in electrical engineering, stressed that based on risk assessment, the likelihood of sparks ignited from handphones is high.
“Therefore, it is most important we do not switch on or make calls while refuelling,” he advised.
A fuel station operator Penghulu Enyang Menchol concurred with Ting’s take on handphones and safety.
As safety precautions, he had informed his staff to remind his customers to be extra careful when customers refuel their vehicles.
“Safety signages are placed all over the place to remind our customers about putting safety as a priority,” he said.
He pointed out that all his workers were well trained on safety-related matters, adding that portable fire extinguishers were serviced annually to keep them in tip-top condition.