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Traffic Talk: Be smart, be aware of danger of smoking at the gas pump

Don Gammill: Smoking at the gas pump is taking a chance. That's why the signs say don't do it.
DON GAMMILL Published: March 11, 2013

Jim, a longtime friend and colleague, told me recently he was amazed — and alarmed — by something he had seen when he pulled into a gas station to fill up, and he wasn't talking about the price of gasoline.

“This guy was putting gas in (his vehicle) while he was smoking,” Jim said. “I couldn't believe it. Smoking a cigarette right there at the gas pump. That's just plain stupid.”

While the obvious thought for most people might be that this is a no-brainer, you'll hear arguments on both sides of the issue.

There are those who say it takes an open flame to ignite gasoline.

Those on the other side say that a lighted cigarette is the same as a flame.

Some say gasoline is a liquid and generally will not burn. They may even tell you they've extinguished a cigarette by tossing it into a container filled with gas.

Their opposites counter with the explosiveness of the fumes off the gasoline.

But honestly?

The signs that read “FLAMMABLE” and “NO SMOKING” are good enough for most people. That means the potential for dangerous results exists and therefore ... don't do it.

You also may see a small sign that says there is a city code prohibiting smoking near gas pumps. Local fire departments can give you real examples of what has happened in addition to what could happen. The firefighters have seen it.

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