Sunday, July 21

Handphones at petrol stations a fire hazard

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SIBU: Switching on handphones or using them at petrol stations is risky as they can ignite fuel vapours.

SAFETY FIRST: Enyang points to the sign which prohibits the use of handphones.

SAFETY FIRST: Enyang points to the sign which prohibits the use of handphones.

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.