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Old 17th September 2014, 11:46   #1
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Default Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

I have always seen every attendant at every petrol pump, be it big or small, curse you when you try to use your phone at their pump.

You may be at the periphery, near the pump machine, near the fuel pit, or sitting inside your closed car, their reaction is the same - "Not Allowed Saar"

These same pumps now use Debit and Credit card readers, often a bunch of different machines to swipe our cards. These machines use GPRS (Cellular Network - 2G) to connect to the Banks, have batteries in them, sometimes they are connected for charging right next to the pump machines. Further, with ATMs at pumps, such ATMs are also often connected via a 3G/2G/CDMA network to the Banks. Rural ones use the VSAT satellite technology to connect as well.

Are these not issues at pumps in case mobiles are a problem? What is the difference technically between a mobile and such devices in terms of fire risk profile?

What about the phones that the attendants themselves carry? Are they not supposed to keep their phones inside the office structure?

These are thoughts that have accumulated recently, and I wish to know if guidelines have been formulated by Oil agencies, the Government or anyone else anywhere in the world covering this topic.

Last edited by latentpotential : 17th September 2014 at 11:55. Reason: Highlighting query
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Old 17th September 2014, 11:54   #2
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Default re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

I understand your rationale, but what we trying to say. Because they use ATMs/Credit card machines they should allow mobile phone usage or they should have a different way of transacting with cards?
Usually in many aspects with safety, it is to do with prevention and to reduce the chances of mishap. In the current scenario with mobile phones, almost all of the customers who use the pump have a mobile phone with them, but the POS machines are only two or three per pump. May be in future they may mandate an even safer way of transacting. But just an example, we should not electric starters if this is the case, high power horns can cause sparks too
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Old 17th September 2014, 20:54   #3
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

You are correct. technically speaking these mobile debit/credit card readers are identical to mobile phones.

But then again, this whole idea that mobile phones causes petrol station to go up in flames is an urban myth anyway.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...nt/4366337.stm

http://www.snopes.com/autos/hazards/gasvapor.asp

I have seen, repeatedly, people smoking at a petrol station. That is definitely dangerous!

Jeroen
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Old 17th September 2014, 21:37   #4
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

The idea perhaps comes from the Refineries/Petrochem and Oil&Gas sites where only electronic equipment certified according to ATEX directive for hazardous area (= presence of explosive gases) is allowed.

So regular mobiles and card readers won't be allowed in such locations. Only ATEX certified walky-talky or handheld devices are allowed.

Now I do realized that we have hydrocarbon fumes and vapors present in the petrol pump dispenser location in normal conditions, hence I would classify this as Zone 1 Hazardous area and only electronic item certified for Zone 1 should be allowed to operate.

The other bunk area would be labelled as Zone 2. Therefore follows less stringent certification, but will require some kind of certification nevertheless.
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Old 18th September 2014, 06:40   #5
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

IMO, the whole idea is about avoiding an electrical/electronic equipment in vicinity (or in direct contact) of the fuel.

The card readers, ATMs would be usually located at a distance from the actual fuel fillers and very less chances of them being in contact with the fuel directly.

The petrol pump attendants do use cell phones at work, however I have never seen anyone using it while actually filling up the fuel.

Now, talking over phone inside car can be considered harmless and should not be restricted. However since many people are extra efficient in implementing the law on 'others' , this is bound to happen.

Following video has been viral on social networks for quite some time. Even though it is not very clear in the video whether the actual cell phone caused the fire, it certainly describes the level of precautions to be taken and consequences if they are ignored:


Last edited by Eddy : 18th September 2014 at 09:32.
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Old 18th September 2014, 06:55   #6
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Well this is just another example of a stupid rule without any scientific evidence backing it. Please read what the FCC has to say

http://www.fcc.gov/guides/wireless-phones-gas-stations
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Old 18th September 2014, 08:47   #7
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

You use your card inside a premises, not near a fuel dispenser (as in case with a mobile phone)

In case you happen to go to a refinery, you will have to get rid of yourself of your phone, cigarettes, matchsticks, loose clothes etc.

The oil tank lorry guys too can't carry mobiles (while fuel is being filled at the refinery) have to wear shoes and quite a lot of rules, as a fire can be catastrophic.

Have a look
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Old 18th September 2014, 09:25   #8
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

As Hayek and my earlier post indicated, there is no evidence whatsoever that mobile phones causes fires/explosions at petrol stations.

On the two video's shown; there are hundred if not thousands of these video with similar misleading titles on YouTube. I can't tell for certain what the cause of these fires/explosion are of course. But I can make a good educated guess.

For all of the above reason it is extremely unlikely they were caused by mobile phones. There are probably few that are cause by electrical sparking in wires nearby, maybe fuel spilling on something very hot, e.g. an exhaust.

The most likely cause is however static electricity discharge. Only in the late 70s, after numerous industrial disasters extensive research was conducted on why storage tanks (both liquid as well as dry good tanks) seemingly exploded without any due cause. In the end it was all down to static discharge building up in the tank, the hose and or the boat/tanker/train wagon whatever was around.

By driving your car, your car builds up a static charge. Most of us will have experience, getting an electrical shock, when leaving your car, now and then. Especially in dry weather. That's when the charge leaves the car via your body into the earth (ground).

So if you really want to be safe at a petrol station make sure you touch the car, on the outside, whilst standing next to it, before putting fuel in it.

The unfortunate thing is, that the "no mobile phone rule" is completely ridiculous and has no scientific basis at all. (to the contrary actually). No mobile phones at petrol stations is enforced all around world. In many European countries, the USA etc.

The awareness of static discharge with the general public is zero. In all other industries it is a well know phenomena and requires constant attention and precautionionary measures. And there tends to be very specific legislation in place (for industries that is)

If I was to fill up my tiny plane, a Cessna C150 with say 20L of fuel, I have to earth the plane first. By law, by regulation, by SOP and by common sense, every pilot and everybody on the airport will know and do so.

If anything the fuel stations at airports for small planes are much more safer than your average petrol station to start with.

So, why o why, can I fill up my car with 100L, without earthing it? The physics that determine how a charge is built and discharges are identical for a plane, a boat, a car.

To sum it up. The no mobile rule is plain stupid, thought of and enforced by idiots who don't understand the essence of physics.

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 18th September 2014 at 09:29.
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Old 18th September 2014, 09:34   #9
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

Agree with Hayek/Jeroen. This is an ill-thought of rule. The FCC tests which certify all radio devices sold in the US, has specifically carried out tests to check if there is a risk - and they found none.
Static charge build up is common. Some drivers loop a chain of sufficient length through a hole in the chassis and let it dangle on the ground. Presumably this is for discharging their car of static electricity.
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Old 18th September 2014, 10:39   #10
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrishi_111 View Post
The card readers, ATMs would be usually located at a distance from the actual fuel fillers and very less chances of them being in contact with the fuel directly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
You use your card inside a premises, not near a fuel dispenser (as in case with a mobile phone)
Nope - I've been in multiple bunks where there's a little table between multiple fuel dispensers where the card readers are kept and used - particularly now that we have chip cards for which we have to enter a PIN.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hayek View Post
Please read what the FCC has to say http://www.fcc.gov/guides/wireless-phones-gas-stations
Thanks for this - more compelling than Snopes is this - a formal note from a government agency.
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Old 18th September 2014, 11:20   #11
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

Thanks for the information guys, going through the links now. At the same time, if what you say is true either ways - the rules being enforced have to be consistently either for or against a "class" of devices and not perceived device type. I hope someone conducts a study on this locally and helps to formulate a new rule base.

I will also reach out to at least two of the Oil cos. where I know someone personally and ask them to check internally what their safety teams have to say about this.


On discussing with my group of friends, I was shown a slightly different petrol pump, where the card machines are connected over wifi to the office structure and then using typical fixed line internet to the Banks. This should be more acceptable from a risk profile perspective, but the understanding is that this has increased cost & compliance aspect.

Last edited by latentpotential : 18th September 2014 at 11:23. Reason: Word
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Old 18th September 2014, 12:05   #12
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by latentpotential View Post
On discussing with my group of friends, I was shown a slightly different petrol pump, where the card machines are connected over wifi to the office structure and then using typical fixed line internet to the Banks. This should be more acceptable from a risk profile perspective, but the understanding is that this has increased cost & compliance aspect.
As a rule of thumb, your mobile device will consumer more power and thus deplete it's battery faster on a WiFi network with reasonable coverage compared to most mobile networks with a reasonable coverage.

The sort of batteries being used in mobile phones compared to WifI only devices are similar if not to say identical.

When you start deploying WiFi networks outside buildings, e.g. a petrol station forecourt it only gets worse

As I stated before the no mobile phone rule is a silly thing to start with.
Never the less I would be interested to hear why you think Wifi is safer. You need to put it in context of "less likely to start a fire/explossion". Which means it's all down to temperature (which is a function of availabe power) and sparking (which is also a function of available power and mechanical design0
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Old 18th September 2014, 12:35   #13
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

What causes static elecricity discharge?

Any vague idea as to what forced Government agencies to implemet the rule to not use mobile phones at petrol pumps?
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Old 18th September 2014, 12:42   #14
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

Mobile phones have no hazard. Its an urban legend. Often, laws are made by people with zilch scientific knowledge(eg calls for WIFI ban)

The problem is static electricity.

Its common with drivers in cold climates, because this is what they did.
They got out(extreme cold weather).
Put nozzle in with auto cutoff, and went and sat in the car.

Then once the fuel is filled, they came out of the car, and then touched the metal around the nozzle area.
Result : Boom.

Anybody who has gotten nasty static shocks in dry winters knows this.
So when filling yourself , follow this.
Get out of car, touch metal body(you can even see a spark sometimes).

Fill fuel while getting frozen, and then go sit in car.

If its -10 or so, then when you come out again, touch any metal part inside car after getting out (through window) before going near nozzle.
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Old 18th September 2014, 12:56   #15
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Default Re: Petrol Pumps: Cellphones not allowed. Why permit Card Readers or ATMs then?

Theoretically there is a chance that a spark might ignite the vapours and manufacturers suggest the same since its a electronic device. So its a precautionary measure and there are no documented cases.

Coming to the question posed here, yes they should not use the wireless card readers if phones are not allowed.
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