From a message dated June 16, 1996

I want to relate an incident that happened to a friend of mine the other day. He was filling a small gas can that was inside the bed of his pickup which has a bed liner in it. The gasoline spontaneously ignited, burning him in the process. The investigation determined that this was caused by static electricity buildup from the plastic bed liner. I have since learned that this is not uncommon, and in fact there are two technical bulletins out on this. One is from Ford Motor Corporation and the other is from Standard Oil Company. The recommendation on both are that you should never fill a gas can in the bed of a truck with a bed liner in it. Place the container on the ground and fill it. The Ford bulletin also stated that placing a rubber mat under the bed liner would alleviate this problem; however, the friend of mine had already done that and the gasoline still ignited. This leaves the only way to fill a gas can is to place them on the ground.


Chevron USA has reported several instances of metal gas cans exploding while being filled in the back of pickup trucks at service stations. In a warning published in Chevronís Marketing Bulletin (36-1904), Chevron said the insulated effect of the plastic liners found in the back of many pickup trucks prevents the static charge generated by gasoline flowing into a metal can from grounding. As the charge builds, it can create static spark between the can and the gas nozzle. Chevron is advising that all cans should be placed on the ground away from vehicles and people when being filled.


My daughter, an electrical engineer who is attending a seminar in Boston this week, called me this AM to have me alert her father of possible death/injury when fueling a gas can that is sitting in the back of a pickup truck with a bed liner. (We own a truck with a dealer-supplied bed liner and have boats ATVs and lawn mower which would mandate fueling a gas can.) A flame specialist at this seminar told me that there have been 23 injuries/deaths because pickup truck owners fueling a gas can/tank that is sitting in the bed of their pickup truck without removing it. Apparently the bed liners do not provide a ground and the fuel generates static electricity that can cause the fumes to ignite. This specialist said that there was pressure on the bed manufactures to put a warning label on their product. With the selling of so many pickups, of which many customers buy a dealer-installed liner, I thought it best to draw attention to this claim for future investigation.