Fuel storage is an important part of emergency preparedness. We need fuel to heat our homes, cook our food, light our world, as well fill other needs. However, serious life-threatening situations, which destroy property, can be easily created through improper storage.
What exactly are the legal limits and guidelines for storing fuel in residential homes? Every county has regulations that vary slightly. The regulations that follow are the home fuel storage limits and guidelines for Utah County based on the Uniform Fire Code.
We encourage you to store all fuel safely and within legal guidelines in your area. Contact your local fire department for current fuel storage limits and guidelines specific to your area! The following information was taken directly from a pamphlet provided for residents of Utah County. We provide the information as an example of possible legal limits.
Check out our post How to Safely Store Fuel for Emergencies for details on how to safely store a variety of fuels.
RECOMMENDED EMERGENCY HOME FUEL STORAGE LIMITS AND GUIDELINES as approved by the following Utah County Area Fire Departments and Agencies
The information in this brochure is only intended to provide typical homeowners with general guidelines concerning emergency fuel storage at residential locations. Please consult your local fire department for definitive answers to any questions you might have, after reviewing the following recommendations. (15 January 1999) The following guidelines are based on the 1997 edition of the UNIFORM FIRE CODE, which has been fully adopted into the annotated Utah State Code and local City Ordinances.
Common Questions and Answers
A: No! Generally speaking, we ask that you only store emergency fuel containers in a detached shed or garage to minimize fire hazards and ignition sources. Two or three (2 or 3) 1-gallon DOT rated containers for gasoline, and 2-cycle fuel for general operation of lawn maintenance equipment, are permissible in your attached garage. We have experienced many serious problems with larger quantities of fuel inside homes, basements, attached garages and carports.
Q: Can I store as many containers as I want in my garden shed or unattached garage?
A: No. Depending on the type of fuel (gasoline, kerosene, diesel, propane), you are only allowed to store limited quantities of each type of fuel in certain kinds and sizes of containers. See following guidelines on the next few pages for each type of fuel.
Q: What authority does the fire department have to tell me what I can and cannot do in my own home?
A: The legal authority comes from fire prevention related portions of the Utah State Code and local city and county ordinances. This really is a life safety (your life safety) issue. Also, your homeowner’s insurance provider would like you to keep the quantities of flammable liquids stored at your residence to a bare minimum.
Home Storage of Flammable Liquids (Gasoline and Coleman White Gas)
• Maximum residential storage of flammable liquids (gasoline and white gas) shall be limited to 25 gallons; preferably stored in an unattached garage or shed. Of this 25 gallon total, no more than 10 gallons can be stored in an attached garage; and absolutely no flammable liquid storage is allowed in basements. (1977 UFC 7902.5.8, 7902.5.10.1, NFPA 30)
• Empty containers shall be counted as full when calculating total storage capacity (1997 UFC 7902.5.3)
• Flammable liquid storage containers shall be of an approved type. (1997 UFC 7902.1.8.1.1) Most of these containers are labeled as approved for flammable liquid use, and indicate the standards they are designed to meet (DOT, ASTM, NFPA 30, etc.) Always use approved or original retail containers. No used milk jugs!
• If you decide to store more than 5 gallons of flammable liquids at your home, you need at least one 2A10BC rated fire extinguisher, located no closer than 10 feet, and no further away than 50 feet. (1997 UFC 7902.5.1.2.1)
• Control of sources of ignition is mandatory! All transfer and dispensing of flammable liquids requires careful attention be paid to eliminating static spark discharge, and ignition of flammable vapors. Open flames and high temperature devices must be controlled and approved for use with flammable liquids. And, smoking is prohibited in the storage area. (1997 UFC 7901.10, 7901.4)
• Flammable and combustible liquids in the fuel tanks of motor vehicles (gasoline, diesel and 2-cycle blends) are exempt, and therefore not considered as a part of your total home fuel storage quantities. (1997 UFC 7902.5.1.1)
Home Storage of Combustible Liquids (Diesel, Kerosene and Lamp Oil)
• Maximum residential storage of combustible liquids (Diesel, Kerosene and Lamp Oil) shall be limited to 60 gallons; preferably stored in an unattached garage or shed. Of this 50 gallon total, no more than 10 gallons can be stored in an attached garage; and absolutely no combustible liquid storage is allowed in basements. (1997 UFC 7902.5.8, 7902.5.10.1, NFPA 30)
• Combustible liquid storage containers shall be of an approved type. (1997 UFC 7902.1.8.1.1) Most of these containers are labeled as approved for flammable liquid use and indicate the standards they are designed to meet (DOT, ASTM, NFPA 30, etc.) Always use approved or original containers. No used milk jugs!
• If you decide to store more than 25 gallons of combustible liquids at your home, you need at least two 2A10BC rated fire extinguishers, located no closer than 10 feet, and no further away than 50 feet. (1997 UFC 7902.5.1.2.1)
• Control of sources of ignition is mandatory! All transfer and dispensing of combustible liquids requires careful attention be paid to eliminating static spark discharge, and ignition of flammable vapors. Open flames and high temperature devices must be controlled and approved for use with flammable/combustible liquids. And, smoking is prohibited in the storage area. (1997 UFC 7901.10, 7901.4)
• Portable Kerosene heating appliances shall be (UL) listed, and shall be limited to a fuel take capacity of 2 gallons. (1997 UFC 6106.2) However, the Uniform Fire Code (Article 61) specifically prohibits the use of these unvented heating appliances in occupied living spaces. If you decide to use these devices, closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, always maintain adequate separation from combustible surfaces, maintain good ventilation in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and use a battery powered Carbon Monoxide detector to detect dangerous conditions.
Home Storage of Flammable LP-Gases (Propane and Butane)
• Residential Propane storage issues are more complex than those for flammable and combustible liquids. If you want a permanent LP-Gas system and tank installed, county ordinance allows you up to 2,000 gallons water capacity in heavily populated areas, provided you obtain a permit, comply with relevant installation codes, and hire a state licensed contractor to perform the work and supply the equipment and product. However, some cities have passed local ordinances that restrict total LP-Gas capacity to 500 gallons or less, where natural gas service is readily available. Please contact any state licensed Propane supplier, under “Gas-Propane” in the yellow pages, for more information regarding permanent Propane gas installations. (1997 UFC 8204.2)
• For portable DOT tank storage, you are allowed up to 25 gallons total capacity. You could have up to five 5-gallon (20 lb) portable appliance cylinders (the size usually found on barbecue grills – DOT 4BA240); or one 23-gallon (100 lb) cylinder (DOT 4BW240), in storage at your home, in an unattached garage or shed. But, if you want to store propane and flammable liquids together, they should be separated by at least 10 feet. (1997 UFC 7902.1.6)
• You are only allowed to store up to two (2) of the small portable 1-pound cylinders inside your home or attached garage. (1997 UFC Standard 82-1/NFPA 58/5-34) All other propane cylinder storage must be outside your home in an unattached garage or shed.
• Propane cylinders attached to heating and/or cooking appliances, as well as those mounted on trailers, motor homes, and campers, do not count towards your total storage capacity.
• Unattached or empty cylinders are counted as being full for purposes of calculating your total storage.
POST January 2000 Fuel Storage Concerns
Over the past 10 years the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state environmental agencies, and local fire departments have required motor fuel dispensers (gas stations, etc.) throughout the nation, to spend millions of dollars to control leakage of motor fuels into the environment from their underground and above ground fuel storage tanks. Naturally, we are now concerned about having hundreds of homeowners throughout the country with relatively uncontrolled fuel storage capacities on their personal property.
Therefore, we strongly recommend that you reduce your home fuel storage capacities to no more than 5 gallons of flammable liquids (gasoline or Coleman White gas), 25 gallons of combustible liquids (diesel or kerosene), and 5 gallons of flammable gas (propane) in portable DOT cylinders; once the threat of widespread utility service interruption passes after January 1, 2000. Heating fuels do not have an indefinite shelf-life; and in fact, many heating/cooking appliance manufacturers recommend that you consume all said fuels within 6 months of purchase.
Your voluntary cooperation in complying with these important Life Safety guidelines is greatly appreciated by the Public Safety community (Health, Fire and Police) at large. These guidelines are truly intended to save your life, and preserve your property. Please contact your local Fire Chief’s or Fire Marshal’s Office for further clarification on these or any other issues.
Be Wise! Don’t Do Stupid Things
We have enough fuel stored at our home to live without electricity and natural gas for over a year. It is stored legally and safely, well within the legal guidelines listed above. You can do this!
We implore you take steps to prepare for emergencies that are wise and protect your family. Remember to check out our post How to Safely Store Fuel for Emergencies for some great information on emergency fuel storage.