WorkSafeBC Home

Truck driver burned in flash fire while refuelling

Date of incident: May 2014
Notice of incident number: 2014163210058
Employer: General trucking company

Incident summary
A truck driver was refuelling his truck with diesel at a fuel station when he was suddenly engulfed in a flash fire. The driver was blown backward approximately 20 feet (6 metres) from the truck and sustained first-degree burns.

Investigation conclusions


  • Fuel in the tank ignited, causing flash fire: The fuel for the flash fire was either diesel vapours or compressed natural gas (CNG), or both. Since the refuelling was taking place outdoors, oxygen was present. The ignition source was created from static charge in the fuel hose.

Underlying factors

  • Engine design re-circulated hot diesel fuel: The type of engine in the truck returns hot diesel fuel to the diesel fuel tank as well as traces of CNG from the fuel injectors. This hot diesel fuel was close to or higher than the flash point and may have ignited.
  • Static electricity charge: The fuelling hose did not meet the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) standard for discharging static electricity. This allowed static electricity to build up while the fuel was dispensing, which was the ignition source for the flash fire. Failure to attach the grounding clip to the vehicle while refuelling may have contributed to the static electricity discharge.

Other safety issue

  • Warning not to top off ignored: Although topping off is a common practice, the worker did not adhere to a warning on the fuel handle not to top off.

Request the full report

Publication Date: Jul 2017 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2014163210058