Disagreement ensues over a state effort to eliminate the requirement that all New York gas stations must have a fire suppression system above their gas pumps.
By CSD Staff
New York’s convenience store operators have dismissed the fire equipment industry’s new “Safe at the Pump” campaign as “a foam bath of misinformation.”
The New York State Association of Fire Equipment Companies (NYSAFECo) recently announced that it was launching a drive to educate all New Yorkers about a state effort to eliminate the requirement that all gas stations must have a fire suppression system in place above their gas pumps. The announcement, however, met stiff resistance from the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS).
“That’s misleading, and they know it,” said Jim Calvin, NYACS president. “The Code Council proposed lifting the mandate only for those gas stations that are newly built or extensively renovated to meet the new standards in the 2015 International Fire Code. The fire suppression requirement would still apply to all remaining stations, including the Long Island location they referenced in their press release.”
Fillipo Conte, president of NYSAFECo, said the Codes Council—a state entity housed within the New York Department of State — opted on Aug. 19, 2015 to do away with the state regulation, in place since 1984, that every gas station in New York be equipped with a fire suppression system in the event that pumps catch fire—as part of an overhaul of the State’s new fire code.
Conte pointed to a recent example, which occurred on Long Island where first responders reportedly were able to stop a fire at a Wyandanch, N.Y. filling station due in part to a fire suppression system on site.
“Let’s be frank,” said Calvin. “Selling, servicing, inspecting and recharging gas station fire suppression systems is a lucrative business for the equipment dealers. That’s what this fuss is all about. Improvements in gas pump safety are threatening their gravy train, and rather than adapt, they’re trying to reverse the policy by scaring the public.”
Calvin said convenience stores care about the safety of their customers and employees, “but the truth is the greater danger is from malfunctioning fire suppression systems. Reputable retailers in all corners of the state told the state Code Council they can never recall their fire suppression systems activating for the purpose of quelling a gas-pump fire, yet every single year, multiple times, these systems discharge accidentally and without notice.”
“When such a malfunction occurs, it’s messy, costly and dangerous – for both the gas station owner and unsuspecting fuel customers who happen to be at the pump and get bathed in white foam powder,” Calvin said. “Cars get stained, clothing ruined and nerves frayed. Worse, motorists panic and try to pull away, sometimes striking pedestrians or other cars. That’s the equipment dealers’ idea of safe at the pump.”