By Paul Keller
There’s updated news on the “Fuel Geyser Project” front.
The U.S. Forest Service National Technology and Development Program’s National Fuel Geyser Project’s ongoing efforts to minimize injury to employees from fuel geysering recently posted a range of insightful information on their activities. The “National Fuel Geyser Awareness” program is a function of the NWCG Equipment Technology Committee.
These updates include fuel geyser incidents in 2018, fuel geyser incidents by manufacturer, and by incident type. In addition, this map (below) has been provided that indicates where fuel geyser incidents occurred from 2015 to 2018.
The Technology and Development Program’s National Fuel Geyser Project awareness updates now include: Recent Accomplishments and Next Steps/Actions Planned. Other subjects include: Alternative Solutions and Risk Analysis; Implementation Risk Factors; and Fuel Solutions.
Fuel Geyser Incidents in 2018
There were a total of 28 fuel geyser incidents reported in 2018. Twenty-three of these were chainsaw incidents (21 with Stihl chainsaws and 2 with Husqvarna chainsaws). Four incidents occurred with fuel containers, and one incident occurred with a leaf blower.
Fuel Geyser Incidents the Past Two Years
From 2017 through 2018, fuel geyser incidents were reported during these activities: Chainsaw (43 incidents); Fuel Transport Container (6 incidents); Leaf Blower (3 incidents); Brush Saw (1 incident); ATV (1 incident).
Alternative Solutions and Risk Analysis
The National Technology and Development Program’s National Fuel Geyser Project members have also been studying potential solutions to prevent fuel geysering.
These alternative solutions that have been identified include: 1) Vaporless Refueling Systems; 2) Formalized Fuel Geyser Training; 3) Standard Saw/Requirements; 4) No Gas Chainsaws; 5) Specialized Fuel; and 6) Fuel Conditioning.
The specialized fuel alternative would involve low volatility fuel. This solution would be three years out for potential implementation.
Fuel conditioning would reduce fuel volatility. The technology for this is not currently available. This may also violate emissions regulations.
A key recommendation of the National Fuel Geyser Project is to continue its field evaluation of vaporless refueling systems. This effort would include 50 test crews and 30,000 refueling cycles. It would occur from May through November of this year.
This field evaluation would be implemented on all handheld-engine powered engines (including chainsaws, string trimmers and blowers).
The following ongoing development efforts will continue in the near term:
- Vaporless Refueling System – by Industry and the National Technology and Development Program
- Saw Specification/Requirements – by the National Technology and Development Program
- Training – by Saw Program/Office of Safety and Occupational Health (OSOH)
The National Fuel Geyser Project’s communication plan now includes a “National Awareness Campaign” and disseminating information on the “Implementation of Fuel Geyser Solutions”.
In addition, these action priorities will continue to be pursued:
- Continue Fuel Geyser Reporting
- Assess effectiveness of solution
- Re-evaluate implementation strategy annually
National Fuel Geyser Awareness Website
For more information—or if you experience a fuel geyser that you would like to report—go to the National Fuel Geyser Awareness website: https://www.nwcg.gov/committees/equipment-technology-committee/national-fuel-geyser-awareness.