National Fuel Geyser Awareness
What is a fuel geyser?
The rapid and energetic expulsion of heated fuel in a closed container when a fuel container is quickly depressurized. Heat and agitation causes the pressure increase. A delayed fuel geyser can occur after the fuel container is opened.
What does a fuel geyser look like?
Why is this important to me?
Over the last two years three significant burn injuries have occurred on prescribed fire and wildland fire incidents. Many additional fuel geyser incidents have been reported. These events happen frequently and have the potential to harm users of power equipment and people refueling power equipment. If you experience or have experienced a fuel geyser please report it.
The following reports contain incidents where fuel geysers have occurred:
- Oak Mesa Fire Lessons Learned (2008)
- Chainsaw Vapor Lock Accident (2013)
- Rock Ridge Fire Burn Injury (2014)
- Willow Peak Firefighter Burn Injury FLA (2015)
- Chainsaw Safety Assessment Team Final Report (2015)
- Chainsaw Fuel Cap Near Miss RLS (2016)
What do I need to know to protect myself?
Fuel geysers can happen anytime when there is fuel, heat & pressure from small gasoline-powered engines, chainsaws, leaf blowers, portable pumps, even when opening fuel transport containers.
Fuel geysers have resulted in injury when sprayed fuel and vapor ignite.
Appropriate precautions when there is fuel, heat & pressure, may prevent significant burns in the event of fuel spray.
- Always assume fuel tanks and fuel containers are pressurized.
- Ensure the cap is correctly secured.
- Always check fuel levels before opening the fuel tank or filler cap. Fuel levels greater than ½ tank may geyser.
- Open cap slowly and if able, direct potential spray away.
- Cover the cap with a rag to contain potential fuel geyser spray.
- Always check fuel levels before opening a fuel cap.
- Be extra vigilant when equipment is running poorly with fuel levels above ½ tank.
- Move at least 20 feet or more from any heat source.
- Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area.
- Do not use fuel older than one month.
If the equipment is running poorly or vapor lock is suspected:
- Do not open fuel cap. Relieving the pressure does not alleviate a “vapor lock” equipment.
- Check fuel level through the tank or use the bar oil level to gage fuel level.
- If fuel level is over ½ full, DO NOT open the tank.
- Allow the equipment to thoroughly cool. This could take over 45 minutes.
- When the equipment is cool, restart the equipment.
It’s YOUR job to protect yourself and others. Know how to handle your equipment to avoid fuel geysers anytime there is fuel, heat & pressure.
What should I do If I experience a fuel geyser?
Please REPORT every fuel geyser incident you experience!
The information you provide our engineers can mean the difference between one of our employees getting injured or not.
To report an incident go to https://www.nwcg.gov/committees/equipment-technology-committee/fuel-geyser-incident-reporting-form
Location of Incidents
Video: USFS - Fuel Geysering: Predictable?