What Should You Do If A Propane Tank Catches On Fire?

Fire is a delicate issue – one that should never be taken lightly. Many items in your home can be a fire hazard, and that includes your propane tank. Because of that, it’s necessary to know what to do if a propane tank catches fire.

If your propane tank catches fire, you should immediately contact the fire department. However, it is better to prevent a fire from happening in the first place by keeping your tank outdoors and in the shade, ensuring it is upright and at a safe distance, and making sure the valve is closed.

Sometimes, extinguishing a propane grill fire improperly can cause a fire. Reading this piece will explain how you can extinguish a propane grill fire so that things don’t get out of hand and you are kept safe.

How to Put Out a Propane Tank Fire

A large propane tank on the side of a house

Propane tanks are great for your cooking needs, but sometimes they can be a fire hazard. Propane tank fires occur when the grill’s fuel line fails and catches fire. We hope this doesn’t happen, but it’s better to know what to do in case of a propane tank fire.

Before we go any deeper, the best thing you can do is to have a fire extinguisher like this Rechargeable Standard Home Fire Extinguisher (on Amazon) on hand, ready to go if you have any fire issues, not just with a propane tank.

An explosion might occur when this happens, so you have to be very careful when handling a propane tank fire. The best thing to do is to call the fire department right away so that firefighters are on the way. According to the regulations, this is how a firefighter should handle a propane tank fire:

  • After the fire is out, flood the container with large volumes of water so it can cool down.
  • Water should not be directed toward leaky pipes or safety devices. Ice may form.
  • If you hear a noise coming from the safety devices or notice discoloration in the tank, you must leave immediately.
  • For a massive fire, use unmanned nozzles or hose holders. If these don’t work, leave the area and let the fire burn.
  • The tank’s sections may fly in any direction during a “BLEVE” (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion). Because of that, a safe operating procedure consists of avoiding the ends of the tank.

Because they have a procedure, you don’t have to panic when your propane tank catches fire. Just reach out to the fire department, and they will take over from there.

How to Prevent Propane Tank Fire

As much as it’s essential to know how to put out a propane tank fire, it’s better to know how to prevent it in the first place. It’s commonly said that prevention is better than cure. So what do you need to do to prevent propane tank fire?

Keep your propane tank outside

Propane is highly flammable – the tiniest leak can lead to a fire outbreak, especially when placed in enclosed areas and near other flammable items. To avoid this, always place your propane tank in open places.

Keep propane tank away from direct sunlight

While you shouldn’t place your propane tank indoors, you also shouldn’t store it in direct sunlight. Placing the propane tank in direct sunlight will heat it up, and when this happens, pressure will increase in the tank.

Most propane tanks, especially portable tanks that you might be hauling around a lot, have relief valves that go off when there’s too much internal pressure. When this happens, gas begins to dispel through the safety valve slowly.

To avoid this, ensure you keep your propane tank out of the sunlight and store it in the shade. Don’t leave it in a hot car, for instance. The pressure valve is there to prevent explosions, but if it’s activated it released flammable gas.

Keep propane tank at a safe distance

Backup tanks shouldn’t be placed adjacent to each other or right beside the grill. Propane tanks and any other potentially spark-causing or flammable object should be kept ten feet apart.

Make sure it’s upright

Leaving the tank on its side for any length of time can allow gas to leak out if the top valve on the tank is compromised. You can prevent fire damage to your home by storing your tank in a place where it won’t get knocked over, thus preventing accidentally spilled gas from igniting, causing fire damage.

Make sure the valve is closed

When you aren’t using the grill, ensure the valve is tightly closed. Whenever possible, it is best to shut off the burners first and then close the valve to allow excess gas to drain. Never use your grill if you smell gas. Make sure you check your tank first.

Avoid using a damaged tank

Two Home Propane Tanks

Don’t use a tank with dents, rust, or peeling paints. There could be a gas leak from the tank if such issues exist. Make sure you transport your tanks safely to and from the store. Be sure to keep them upright and stable. Keeping them in crates will prevent them from rolling around or colliding.

How to Extinguish a Propane Grill Fire

We always have to be very careful when dealing with fire, including a propane grill fire. If you don’t know how to extinguish a propane grill fire properly, you’re likely going to make things worse. You should always call the fire department or 911 first, and understand if you attempt to stop the fire, you may end up hurting yourself.

That said, if you have a small fire, here are some steps you could use to try to approach it safely.

  1. Start by turning off the propane tank at the valve on top of the tank.
  2. Turn off the electric starter as well if your grill has one.
  3. If the grill has a liquid ignition system, you will want to turn it off – it’s similar to a propane starter.
  4. Once the propane tank and liquid ignition equipment have been turned off, use a fire extinguisher.
  5. Take all the supplies and tools you’ll need to extinguish the fire.
  6. Take care when approaching the grill so that it doesn’t collide or burn on the surface or bottom of the hot grill.
  7. Evaluate the situation.
  8. If the fire is minimal, you can quickly put out the fire with a metal spatula.
  9. If the fire is large, put it out with a fire extinguisher. You should keep gloves near your grill to douse flames, as well as either baking soda, sand, or kosher salt. Never use water to douse the flames.
  10. You should be careful of sparks and flames after you extinguish a fire. Before leaving the barbecue area, make sure there are no sustained fires.

Note, you should dispose of a full propane tank by shutting off the tap so that gas doesn’t escape and pollute the environment. Also, you should keep a cell phone nearby while grilling to call the fire department in case of an emergency.

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