Can Mobile Phones cause Fire at Fuel Stations?

We have been receiving hundreds of videos where a petrol pump catches fire because someone was using a mobile phone.

There are some boards on such fuel stations saying, “Please switch off your phone”

However, most of us ignore that board and probably not even switch off the phone. Contrarily, we use PayTM to make payments for our fuel.

So what is the reality?

Two black cars parked beside gasoline station.
We have been receiving hundreds of videos where a petrol pump catches fire because someone was using a mobile phone. There are some boards on such fuel stations saying, "Please switch off your phone"
However, most of us ignore that board and probably not even switch off the phone. 
Contrarily, we use PayTM to make payments for our fuel. 
So what is the reality?
Photo by Patrik Storm on Unsplash

Can a mobile phone set a fuel station fire?

No. Period.

Radio wave signals have no capability to set any fuel on the fire. In fact, there are various places where radio waves and petrol are working together.

It is completely proved that there is no such incident where radio waves have interfered with fuel and caused a blast.

Federal Communications Commission is a trusted organization which has clarified this myth. You can read the report here:

Federal Communications Communication

Then what about those videos which I watched on the Internet?

Radio waves are not causing any problem but static electricity is.

Petrol and diesel are highly flammable. Their fumes are highly volatile to cover the surroundings around the fuel station. Even if you can’t see, the vapors of petrol and diesel are always in the air.

Now, when you receive a phone call, sometimes a small spark is generated inside some phones. That spark is much meager in size but it is enough to set something on fire when the petrol vapors are present in the air.

But a static electric charge does not require a mobile phone to get produced. Simply rubbing or excessive friction on various synthetic materials can do the job.

Clearly, radio waves from your phone are not playing any role but the static electricity is playing its role.

Also, The Mythbusters have busted this myth right in 1999 when most of us didn’t even own a phone. They demonstrated the whole thing in a practical way.

What should I do to avoid static electricity?

Now, this is the real question and not the smartphone.

First, avoid receiving phone calls when the person is refueling your vehicle because that is anyway distracting you. Keep your eye on the numbers.

Second, whenever you take your vehicle to refuel, touch a metal piece nearby to transfer the static charge on to that object.

But that is not really an issue because you don’t touch the nozzle of the pump by yourself. This can be applicable in some Western countries where people have to remove the nozzle and fill the fuel all by themselves.

This is the reason why a good petrol pump ensures that the staff members are wearing gloves while delivering fuel. Wearing gloves prevent static charges.

The fact is some accidental ignitions have happened at fuel stations but they were all almost certainly due to static electricity created when a person got out of the car without touching the frame of the car or something else to ground them. 


PS: After visiting a fuel station next time, don’t start arguing with the employees there if they insist you to switch off your phone.

Their petrol pump, their rules.

Although you can educate such people by showing this post *winks*

In case, you have not checked a related post, here is the link:

10 Things to check for fighting Fake News

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