Gas Station Fire Statistics

Industrial Fire
Apr 12,2024

Gas stations are familiar across the United States, with the NACS reporting more than 145,000 fueling stations nationwide. Notably, 127,588 of these stations also operate as convenience stores. 

Despite their prevalence, NFPA showcases us that these stations are not without their dangers:

  • Yearly, fire departments responded to 4,150 gas station fires.
  • These fires caused an average of 3 deaths and 43 injuries annually.
  • Property damage from these fires averaged $30 million each year.

This post will explore the data surrounding gas station fires, underlining the critical nature of safety measures in these common yet potentially dangerous locations.

Fires in Gas Stations by Year

The NFPA reports that from 1980 to 2018, the incidence of fires in gas and service stations has seen a significant decrease. In 1980, there were 7,860 fires reported on these properties. By 2018, this number had almost halved to 4,370.

The reduction in fires also correlates with a decrease in associated injuries. Data from 1980 indicates there were over 100 injuries resulting from these fires, a stark contrast to the 44 reported in 2018.

Furthermore, the financial impact of these fires in terms of direct property damage has also lessened. Costs have dropped from $37 million in 1980 to $21 million in 2018, demonstrating improvements across the board in fire safety and prevention at gas and service stations.

Cause of Gas Station Fires 

According to data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Experience Surveys, the primary causes of gas station fires are as follows:

  • Electrical Distribution and Lighting Equipment: 21%
  • Cooking: 19%
  • Heating Equipment: 10%
  • Intentional: 10%
  • Smoking Materials: 8%
  • Fans or Air Conditioning: 7%
  • Shop Tools and Industrial Equipment: 5%
  • Exposure: 4%

It’s crucial to highlight that a significant number of gas station fires are non-confined. The NFIRS 5.0 and NFPA’s Fire Experience Survey provide detailed statistics in their table of causes of ignition.

Source: NFPA

This data reveals that 59% of all reported fires at gas stations are non-confined, underscoring the potentially deadly impact of such fires.

Gas Station Fire Risk Assessment 

A comprehensive study conducted by J Occup Health investigated fire risks at international gasoline stations. The study encompassed 47 gasoline stations and yielded some concerning findings:

  • On average, each station was equipped with 23 ± 12 nozzles, and notably, none of the stations implemented vapor recovery systems (VRS) on their dispenser nozzles.
  • An average of 10 ± 5 employees operated at each station, all working within a 1.5-meter radius of the dispenser nozzles, a zone referred to as FHZ-I (Fire Hazard Zone I).
  • Workers were found to use their cell phones for more than four hours daily while in close proximity to the dispensers.
  • Measurements of flammable gas levels ranged from 1.3% to 7.4% LEL-UEL (Lower Explosive Limit – Upper Explosive Limit), with an average of 6.2% ± 5.2%.

The study’s risk assessment concluded that there was an intolerable risk of fire in FHZ-I at 85.1% (40 stations) and in FHZ-II at 21.3% (10 stations). Furthermore, 18 stations were identified as having a substantial risk, while 19 faced a moderate risk in FHZ-II.

Conclusion

The data underscores the persistent fire hazards at gas stations despite advancements in safety measures. It showcases: 

  • Significant reduction in fires from 1980 to 2018
  • Decreased injuries and financial losses over time
  • Importance of ongoing vigilance and safety protocol adherence

In conclusion, with sustained efforts in safety practices and technology, we can continue minimizing fire risks at gas stations safeguarding communities and properties.

About the Author

Industrial Fire

We are a family-owned and operated business. Industrial Fire has proudly served Houston, Texas, for over seven decades. Fire protection technology has changed a lot since we started doing business in 1945. Still, one thing hasn’t changed, our commitment to providing our neighbors in Houston, TX, with the best fire protection services and equipment available.