Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a generic term which includes both propane and butane. Both are colourless odourless liquids which readily evaporate into a gas. The liquefied gas is supplied pressurised in in portable cylinders or delivered by road tanker to a fixed bulk installation. Although the cylinders and tanks are of strong construction and not easily damaged the valves, supply pipes and pipe connections are vulnerable to damage.
Mixed with air LPG forms a flammable mixture which will burn or explode on ignition. The gas is heavier than air so sinks towards the ground and will flow for long distances collecting in drains, gullies and cellars.
Safety, health and welfare legislation requires that the risks associated with the storage and use of compressed and liquefied flammable gases be assessed and appropriate control measures identified and established. Their presence needs to be taken into account when considering your fire risk assessment and preparing fire and emergency procedures. Provision must also be made to limit the effect should an emergency situation arise.
Control of the hazards presented by the use of cylinder supplied flammable gases begins with an assessment of the way it is used and the risks that might arise from that use. The risks can and should be reduced to an acceptable level by implementing sensible and reasonably practicable measures.
LPG cylinders should be fixed in position and must be located in a safe place. They must also be fitted with all necessary safety devices and be installed and maintained by a competent gas engineer qualified to work on LPG systems. In Ireland use a Bord Gais Eireann Registered Gas Installer, elsewhere use a GasSafe™ engineer. (GasSafe™ engineers carry an ID card bearing their photograph, along with an expiry date and the tasks that the engineer is qualified to complete. The engineer’s registration and photograph can be checked on the website gassaferegister.co.uk)
Any cylinders not connected to an installation, whether empty or full, should be safely stored in a secure, well ventilated storage compound. Where the combined total quantity of LPG in the cylinders is less than 400kg the storage compound must be at least one metre from a boundary, building or fixed source of ignition; greater distances are required for larger quantities of stored lpg. The cylinder store should be clearly marked to indicate that is an LPG storage facility and away from sources of heat, stored flammable materials or rubbish in a well-ventilated area.
To meet with legal requirements bulk installations must be installed and maintained strictly in accordance with published standards.
Clients in this situation should call our 24 Hour Advice Service for specific information.
See also Gas Supplies and Equipment