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How to store flammables safely


  • Keep above-ground tanks outside and at least 40 feet from buildings.
  • Make sure fill opening is equipped with a cover, which can be locked.
  • Make sure vent pipes from underground storage tanks are at least 12 feet above ground level.
  • Provide cross-ventilation for the building used to store flammable liquids. The building should have at least two 64-square-inch vents placed at floor level.
  • Use specially designed gas storage tanks. Don’t use 50-gallon oil drums.
  • Have “FLAMMABLE — KEEP FIRE AND FLAME AWAY” imprinted in red on above-ground gas storage tanks.
  • Mount above-ground tanks on supports of adequate strength and design to provide stability.
  • Equip tanks elevated for gravity discharge with an internal fuse-link valve that will close automatically in case of fire.

Fuel oil

  • Store fuel oil, including diesel fuel, outside of buildings whenever possible.
  • Protect the copper fuel oil supply line by masonry when exposed to damage.
  • Store fuel oil that is inside a building in an Underwriters Laboratories approved tank with outside fill and vent pipes. The tank should be located at least five feet from the furnace, water heater, or appliances.

L.P. gas

  • Locate cylinders so the safety-relief valve is at least three feet horizontally from any building opening, which is below the level of the valve.
  • Provide a concrete or other firm foundation for cylinders.
  • Provide a cover for regulating equipment to keep out rain or sleet.
  • Place horizontal L.P. tanks on concrete or steel saddles at least 20 feet from any building. Protect the gas-supply line from damage and corrosion.

In the right proportion, the combination of AIR, HEAT, and FUEL (vapor) in a confined space is an explosive force. For example, one gallon of gasoline when mixed with air in the proper proportion has the destructive power of 83 pounds of dynamite.

Heat does not have to be visible to have sufficient temperature to ignite gasoline and other flammable vapors. Common sources of heat are flame, friction, electric sparks, spontaneous ignition, chemical reaction, static sparks, lightning, hot motors, or hot mufflers.

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