Domestic 45kg LPG cylinders don’t pose a significant hazard during bushfires, provided they’re correctly installed and maintained. But if you do use gas bottles, here are some tips to help you stay safe during bushfire season. ch.
Store your cylinders correctly
LPG cylinders should be:
- outside of buildings, nominally at ground level,
- not under a building or stairway,
- on a firm, level and non-combustible base,
- secured to a solid structure,
- clear of combustible materials, and
- positioned so the safety valves point away from adjacent structures and cylinders.
Ask a licensed gasfitter about the safest ways to store and use your LPG cylinders correctly. All gas fitting work, including relocating the regulator or piping, must be performed by a licensed professional.
The safety valve
On top of your LPG cylinder you’ll find a safety valve protected by a plastic cap. In high temperatures, the safety valve automatically releases gas to protect the cylinder. When enough gas has been released, the safety valve automatically closes.
The safety valve operates independently from the hand valve and will continue to work if the cylinder is turned off. If the temperature rises enough for the safety valve to operate, a very loud hissing noise will be heard. There may also be a fireball, which is normal, so always keep safe distance from cylinders.
Actions during a bushfire
If a bushfire approaches, and provided it is safe to do so, follow these steps:
- Turn off all cylinders with the hand valve (located on top, turn in a clockwise direction).
- Leave all cylinders installed, secured in an upright position.
- Make sure the area around the cylinders is free of combustible materials.
- Do NOT cover the cylinders with wet material to keep cool as it may dry out and become combustible.
- If the cylinders are exposed to heat, and if safe to do so, hose them down with water to reduce the pressure.
Any damage to the cylinder, such a dents and gouges, will affect its integrity. Inspect your cylinders regularly and contact your supplier with any concerns. If a cylinder is exposed to a fire, the steel can be damaged and may need to be removed from service. Again, contact your supplier if you’re concerned.
Installing a support structure
It’s recommended 45kg LPG cylinders be appropriately restrained to prevent tipping and to ensure the safety valve operates as intended. When considering how to restrain cylinders, the construction of your house should be taken into account.
Cylinder restraints for LPG cylinders are different for single brick or framed walled buildings and double brick buildings.
Single brick and framed walls are likely to fall over during a fire, so securing the cylinders to a separate support structure is recommended. Double brick walls will generally remain standing after a fire, so a restraint system bolted to the wall is usually acceptable.