Fire brigade tells of dangers after leaking hose totally drenches Paraparaumu woman in fuel

By Melissa Nightingale

The hose Ingrid Carson used was damaged after the customer before her tried to drive off with it still attached to their car. Photo / File
The hose Ingrid Carson used was damaged after the customer before her tried to drive off with it still attached to their car. Photo / File

It could take something as small as a static shock for petrol fumes to ignite - a fact a Paraparaumu woman may not have been aware of after a split hose at a Z petrol station doused her in fuel yesterday.

Ingrid Carson was unsuspectingly trying to fill her lawnmower container with $10 of petrol when fuel came spraying out of the hose at the Z station on Kapiti Road, soaking her hair and clothes.

"Petrol poured all over my back, all over my hair, all down my clothes right down to my feet, so I was actually completely doused in petrol," Carson said.

She discovered there was a split higher up the petrol hose.

"It was just p****** out like a gushing flow of petrol at full pressure."

Staff only gave her serviettes to dry off with, and gave her free coffee and a muffin, and plastic sheets to cover her car seat with.

A staff member filled her lawnmower container and put it in her car.

As Carson sat back in her car, the staff member reminded her she owed $10, before jokingly saying they would not charge her for the $10 of petrol on her clothes and the forecourt.

Carson then drove home and tried to wash the petrol out of her hair with a hose on the lawn.

While she was on the phone to someone from Z to question whether it was standard practice to "give me a coffee and a muffin and send me on my merry way", the fire brigade showed up and told her to get into the shower.

At that point, Carson had already "burst into tears" on the phone to Z.

Yesterday I was a mess and very upset and definitely very tearful and blubbery. Now it's the next day, I've got to move on from s*** like this.
Ingrid Carson

Then an ambulance also showed up at Carson's home so paramedics could check her blood pressure and make sure she was feeling okay.

Meanwhile, Carson's son went on Facebook to post a complaint on the Z Facebook page.

In reflection, Carson said she was most upset that the staff had let her drive home, though she was not sure what should have been done in that situation.

"Maybe I should have been offered a shower or maybe I should have been told to wait at the petrol station while the fire brigade were called," she said.

One firefighter told her if the brigade had been called they would have set up a portable shower that released 200 litres of water per minute to wash her off.

We will share the outcome of the review with her and we'll make damn sure to learn from it.
Z spokesman Jonathan Hill

"I guess we're all human and, I mean, I don't suppose it's labelled an accident, it's labelled an incident. Incidents happen.

"Yesterday I was a mess and very upset and definitely very tearful and blubbery. Now it's the next day, I've got to move on from shit like this."

She said the owner of Z had apologised to her and told her they had never heard of something like this happening before.

Z spokesman Jonathan Hill said he had met with Carson and conveyed the company's apologies.

He said there would be a full investigation into the incident, but it appeared the hose had become damaged when the customer before Carson tried to drive away with the hose still attached to their car.

"I just want to make the point that we didn't do a good enough job here. We've apologised in person to the woman concerned and I think she accepted the apology. We will share the outcome of the review with her and we'll make damn sure to learn from it."

He said the investigation would give them answers as to what could have been done differently.

"All of this remains to be seen, but do we have alternative clothing on site for people who might inadvertently come into contact with petrol? Was it suitable for the woman to drive herself home? Should we have called an ambulance? This will be something that we'll learn through the investigation as well."

Paraparaumu Fire Brigade station officer Peter Moffat said the biggest danger with being sprayed with petrol was how flammable it was.

"If you do get covered in petrol, obviously that's a very serious situation," he said.

Moffat said petrol had a "large flammability range", which refers to the range of a concentration of a gas or vapour that will burn or explode if an ignition source is introduced.

"Any spark will set it off," Moffat said.

His advice to anyone sprayed with petrol was to immediately remove any contaminated clothing and stay away from ignition sources.

These could include the obvious ones such as lighters and lit cigarettes, but sparks could also be generated by cellphones or static electricity, such as the shock a person gets when they touch a car door.

It was also important to call the fire brigade as soon as something happened.

"It's better to get us on the road straight away, even if nothing happens, that's okay. If something does happen at least we're on the way."

- NZ Herald

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