Storing Flammable or Combustible Liquids

It is common for concessions and park staff to store and handle flammable or combustible liquids in their operations. Most often, staff need to store or handle gasoline in small containers. These gas cans, or fuel containers, are often used to easily transport small volumes of gasoline for vessels, ATVs or back country vehicles. While gas cans may seem less of a safety concern than an aboveground storage tank, there are still many regulations that must be followed to ensure compliance. It is not uncommon for environmental audits to reveal gas cans that are out of compliance.

Gas can regulations are enforced by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). NFPA 54, ANSI Z223.1, provides the minimum safety requirements for the design and installation of any fuel gas piping system. The requirements are in place to reduce fire hazards and risks. The OSHA standard and requirements related to gas can usage cover safe handling, storage, and dispensing of flammable liquids.

Relevant OSHA standards (including compliance rules) are found in Code 1910.106: Flammable and Combustible Liquids. All safety cans utilized for gas transfer purposes must not exceed five gallons (see table below for more information). All gas cans must have a tight closure, with either a screwed or spring cover, and must be fitted with a spout for easy pouring. Finally, gas cans containing flammable liquids with a flashpoint at or below 80°F must be painted red, with a yellow identification band.

What types of gas can may be used? Pictures of acceptable and unacceptable containers are shown below.

Acceptable Conditions Unacceptable Conditions
Metal or glass containers, or approved plastic containers Repurposed plastic containers
Stored in flammable storage cabinet closed off from public Stored in maintenance area cabinet with access to public
Spout for easy pouring Twist cap with no funneling mechanism
Clearly labeled and color coded with red and yellow Repurposed canister with dated label

It should be noted that plastic safety can use is acceptable if, and only if, the can has a capacity of five gallons or less, is third party certified (e.g., Factory Mutual [FM], Underwriters Laboratories [UL]), has a spring-closing lid, has a spout cover, and is designed to safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure. Further, storage rooms must be equipped with fire detection, alarms, and suppression systems.

Following this guidance, concessioners will be better equipped to handle their gas cans onsite, and ensure workplace safety. Fuel storage is a serious issue, and by following the regulations above, parks and concessioners can work to improve overall environmental compliance.

Acceptable Containers

Photo of a red gas can with the word Safety on the label Photo of a red gas can without a label
5 gallons; screw top; spring for easy pour
5 gallons; screw top; funnel for easy pour

Unacceptable Containers

Photo of a red gas can without funnel Photo of a larger red gas can without funnel
No funnel for easy pour; mislabeled
5 gallons; no funnel for easy pour