Fire Service steps up gas station safety enforcement


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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Fire Service is issuing a warning to gas station owners, employees and patrons to follow fire safety regulations after several reported violations.

Fire Service Assistant Director Daryl George said the reports have spanned the territory. The violations pertaining to gas station patrons include people smoking while refueling, allowing children under the age of 16 to refuel cars and people refueling while their cars are running.

Some gas stations have been observed allowing tankers to refill their underground tanks while patrons refuel their cars at the pump, George said.

"We're just asking the public to comply," he said.

George said the Fire Service's Arson Prevention and Detection Unit is responsible for issuing citations based on gas station violations. Violators can face monetary fines and imprisonment.

George estimated three such citations, or letters warning violators, had been issued on St. Thomas in the last year.

George said the Fire Service issued a similar public warning about a year ago and has met with gas station owners in the territory to reiterate the importance of following the rules.

"It was a favorable response," George said. "Just some of them started falling back to their old ways."

The Fire Service highlighted the following gas station safety regulations in a press release Monday:

- Smoking is not permitted within 20 feet of any fueling station. This includes the use of matches and lighters.

- Motors must be shut off during fueling.

- Gas station pumps must be closed when tankers are refilling gas station tanks.

George said a number of gas station owners reported having problems with the public ignoring their instructions or not knowing about safety regulations.

"They have a problem with the public getting on them when they tell them what to do," George said. "So we took a proactive stance with the potential fire hazard."

The Fire Service will increase patrols and citations following recent reports of violations, he said.

Residents with questions about the regulations can call 774-7610 on St. Thomas or 773-8050 on St. Croix.

- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email lmattei@dailynews.vi.

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