Fire Safety Agreement: Fuel and Hazardous Materials Storage

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All participants using combustible fuels in an art installation (or for other purposes) at Burning Man must educate themselves about and comply with appropriate practices for storing and handling these materials.

General Fuel Storage Requirements

Separation and Emergency Egress

A distance of 10′ or greater must be maintained between any stored fuels (liquid fuels and compressed or liquefied fuel gases) and tents, equipment, public areas, RVs and all camp structures. A fire lane of 20′ shall be kept free of obstructions to provide emergency access for fire vehicles if needed. No fuel storage area shall be closer than 100′ from another fuel storage area.

Vehicle Protection

All fuel storage areas must be protected from vehicle collision. A safety area of 10′ around the stored fuel should be marked as off limits using caution tape or other equivalent measures.

Storage Area Safety and Security

All fuel and flammables must be stored in approved containers which must remain closed except when filling or dispensing.

Tanks and barrels should be secured to prevent tampering.

Proper signage of “NO SMOKING – FLAMMABLE” shall be visible from all four directions.

At least one hand held portable extinguisher with a 40-B rating is required for any fuel storage area per 55 gallons of fuel capacity. Extinguishers rated as ABC, AB, or BC will have a separate value for the B rating, which indicates the square footage of a class-B fire that a non-expert user should be able to extinguish with it.

Example: First Alert 5 Lb. 3-A:40-B:C Heavy Duty Plus Fire Extinguisher

The fire extinguisher must be placed 8′ – 10′ from the fuel storage area and be easily visible.

Liquid Fuels

Quantity Limit

No more than 110 gallons or two 55-gallon drums may be stored in a camp at one time. Note: Nevada law prohibits transportation of more than 110 gallons of fuel in any vehicle without proper permitting, signage and required insurance. Arrangements can be made to have fuel delivered daily to larger generators or in drums through independent vendors with prior arrangement. Those providing transport of fuel should read these fuel delivery and transport guidelines.


Fuel must be in stored in appropriate containers, which include 55-gallon fuel drums and approved 5-gallon or smaller containers.

Fuel containers shall not be overfilled. Most fuel containers are designed to be filled to 80% in order to allow expansion caused by temperature change.

Fuel containers must remain closed except when filling or dispensing fuel. Proper seal must be ensured on all lids, caps, bungs, or valves to prevent spills or leaks. All containers shall be securable to prevent tampering.

Fuel must not be stored in close proximity to any sources of artificially-produced heat which could cause the fuel to ignite, and must never be stored inside or under a living area such as a camper or RV.

Secondary Containment

A secondary containment device or structure capable of holding 110% of the total fuel storage capacity is required.

A secondary containment device or structure capable of holding 110% of the largest single container in the device is required. For example, a single containment device holding two 55-gallon drums need a capacity of at least 60.5 gallons.

Example: Eagle 1620 Spill Containment Pallet

Collections of small tanks or containers, in total quantities exceeding 20 gallons, also need secondary containment. For collections of small fuel cans, this can be as simple a fuel-resistant tarp with a raised frame placed beneath to create a containment area.

Handling and Transfer

When filling or dispensing flammable or combustible liquids, open flames or other ignition sources must be kept at least 50 feet away.

No gravity fed tanks are allowed as fittings can break and cause large-scale spills. Electric pumps are preferable.

Note: Use proper electrical connections to reduce chances of spark and ignition. All electric pumps must be UL rated with proper ground bonding.

Example: Fill-Rite Fuel Transfer Pump

Hand pumps are not recommended as fuel can leak out due to gravity. Always keep hose heads above the level of the tank when not in use. Fuel containers are only to be opened when dispensing or receiving fuel.

Fuel spills are most likely to occur at the point of transfer. Take precautions to protect the playa surface by transferring fuel over a secondary containment or absorbent material. Burning Man recommends the use of a spill mat or appropriate tarp laid underneath the fuel-dispensing point when fueling vehicles or performing other transfers, to prevent any spills or overfills from contacting the playa surface.

Example: Oil/Fuel Spill Mat

Spill Control and Response

Preventing spills on the surface of the Black Rock desert is essential to our continued use of this resource for our Event. It is also important to be good stewards of public lands and to leave no trace. The Playa surface itself adds to the challenge because of its absorbent nature. Spill response and containment control materials should be kept on hand to deal with any spill quickly. Basic fuel spill kits should include a shovel and a sealable container for storage until disposal. Spill control measures shall be proportional to amounts of fuel stored.

Example: XSORB Spill Kit

Fuel spills of more than 1 gallon should be reported to Black Rock Rangers or Emergency Services. Reports should include specific location and contact person at that location.

Fire Suppression Notes

A flammable liquid fire (including petroleum and other products) burns at the surface of the material, as it is vaporized by the fire or ambient heat. Do not use water on a liquid fuel fire. Applying water merely spreads the flaming liquid over a wider area, where it vaporizes more rapidly, intensifying the fire.

The best way to put out such a fire is to cut off its air supply or interrupt its chemical chain reaction. The smothering agents commonly used for petroleum fires are carbon dioxide (CO2) and dry chemical powder extinguishers. Both are effective for flammable liquids, but dry chemical is better for outdoor use because it’s not subject to wind, has a longer range and can extinguish pressurized leaks of gas and liquid.

Safety Reminders

  • Store fuel away from any running generator.
  • Do not fill the tank on a generator that is running.
  • When transferring fuel, use a pump. Never try to start a siphon using your mouth. A mouth full of gas or diesel could be fatal to you. For health reasons, wash hands after fueling.
  • Keep all equipment used for petroleum storage and handling in good condition. Watch for leaks, deterioration, or damage.
  • If fuel is spilled on your clothing, move away from any ignition source, and allow the clothing to dry. Use waterless soap for hands. If fuel should splash in eyes, use clean water to flush.
  • Be aware of static electricity that can build up on you and/or a container. Any spark can ignite gasoline vapors. Always fill containers on the ground, not in vehicles.
  • Always use a bonding strap when transferring flammables and combustibles between containers.

Compressed and Liquefied Fuel Gases

Conditions and Limitations

  • LP-Gas cylinders of 100 gallons or more are not permitted within the camping area, except when installed as part of a Mutant Vehicle Flame Effect’s fuel system.
  • The Emergency Services Department (ESD) must be notified of the presence on the playa and locations of acetylene cylinders of any size.
  • Acetylene cylinders must be stored away from Oxygen cylinders with a minimum separation of 20′ or more, unless plumbed or in use on a cutting cart.

Cylinder Storage and Care

  • All gas cylinders of any size must be stored in an upright position and secured to prevent tipping and potentially becoming an unguided projectile.
  • All cylinder valve protection caps are to remain on the cylinder valve assemblies unless in use with plumbing or regulator set.

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