New York May Eliminate Overhead Fire Suppression Systems at Gas Stations

An assemblyman is objecting to an advisory board recommendation to no longer require such systems.

September 18, 2013

ALBANY – New York gasoline stations may soon have the option of not taking down their hanging, overhead fire suppression systems if the state government follows an advisory board recommendation, the Associated Press reports.

The canopy protection system automatically releases fire suppression chemicals and shuts off the flow of gas whenever it detects a fire or explosion at the pumps. The systems have been a requirement in the state of New York since 1984, but only a few states have such a mandate.

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi wants New York to keep the requirement after a decision by an advisory board recommended cessation of the mandate back in January. A second committee is due to review that suggestion soon.

However, the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) said that the overhead systems aren’t necessary and constitute their own risks. “We care about the safety of our customers and employees. But fire suppression systems at retail fueling facilities pose as much danger and chaos as they provide protection, and we believe the costs now outweigh the benefits,” James Calvin, president of NYACS, told NACS Daily.

“NYACS member retailers advise me that fire suppression systems are very costly to install, maintain and recharge. Moreover, they are prone to accidental discharge, which damages cars and clothing, disrupts fueling operations, sparks customer fear and outrage, and ruins business reputations,” he said.

“Much has changed since 1984 when the fire suppression mandate was enacted. Most notably, all motor fuel dispensers are now equipped with a shutoff valve that automatically cuts the fuel supply line in the event of a fire, preventing escalation. Yet New York is one of only a handful of states with a fire suppression system mandate still in place,” said Calvin.