Standards Matter
February 9, 2024

Guiding the Safety of Combustible Liquid Power with UL/ULC 567

Gas pump in car

Even with the proliferation of Electric Vehicles in the US and Canada, combustion engines are still the primary source of automotive power. For most drivers, fueling their vehicle is an uneventful and even mundane task completed with zero incidents. However, human error sometimes enters the equation, with potentially fatal effects.

Naturally, flammable and combustible fuels have inherent hazards.  However, the American Burn Association’s 2024 National Burn Awareness Week highlights the risks of flammable liquids and the measures that can be put into place to mitigate them. UL Standards & Engagement contributes to this effort by highlighting our standard, UL/ULC 567 Emergency Breakaway Fittings, Swivel Connectors and Pipe-Connection Fittings for Petroleum Products and LP-Gas.

Why It Matters

Typically, refueling a vehicle poses very little threat of fire or injury when properly done as the system remains closed and the fuel contained. Drivers often hang the pump back on the fueling station with no concern and drive off to complete their day. However, distractions can come into play in the rush of life, such as a driver forgetting that the car is attached to the pump and driving off.

Breakaway fittings are a critical, but easily overlooked, component of a safe refueling exercise. In fact, many people are unaware the silver connection at the top of the gas hose is a vital safety component. These fittings allow the fuel source to shut off and separate from the pump in case of sudden shock – such as a collision or the drive off scenario above – to help eliminate the risk of an uncontrolled fuel spill and fire. Better yet, some of these fittings can be easily reconnected by gas station personnel, providing a reusable and cost-effective safety measure which is easy to adopt and maintain. 

How It Works

UL 567 provides the evaluation and test program for fueling devices within the scope of the standard. As a result, devices certified to this standard can help assure consumers that their pump has been built to address known safety hazards, and have completed an established test program. UL/ULC 567 states where and when breakaway fittings must be used, such as between the outlet of the dispensing device and the nozzle of the valve into which it feeds. These breakaway fittings must be strong enough to withstand normal use pressures as well to ensure they do not interfere with normal operation.

Other requirements in this standard apply to the construction of the breakaway fitting, stating that they must be constructed of a material that is resistant to the fuel being used. The thickness of fitting walls and their coating materials are also specified, and the fitting must also provide a ground for static charges without the use of a grounding cable to reduce the risk of fire resulting from a spark, especially important to prevent the buildup of static which could cause a spark when the fitting separates.

This may seem like a lot of work for a small component, but a thorough approach to addressing the safety hazards is essential. After all, the U.S. experiences over 5,000 gas station fires per year resulting in an average of two deaths and 48 injuries. 

ULSE remains committed to reducing that number through consensus-based standards shaped by experts working together.

How You Can Help

When it comes to consumer safety for the devices we use in everyday life, the power is truly in the hands of the consumer. You can begin by looking on the packaging or the device itself for a certification mark from a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory. You can also keep a sharp eye for counterfeit goods, which may have a fraudulent certification mark, but can often be identified by poor construction, spelling errors, and a price tag that is too good to be true. 

By ensuring that your devices and tools have been properly constructed and tested, you can rest assured that safety hazards have been accounted for and mitigated. Learn more about counterfeit goods and the harm they can cause.