Ever wondered how gas stations work?

Ever wondered how gas stations work?

owner of a gas station here.. had my tanks and pumps upgraded about 4 years ago.. here's how it looks in real life.. http://imgur.com/a/Pa7mF

the video doesn't mention all the discriminating detectors in the sumps as well that can either tell you if you have water in the underground pump sump or under the dispenser sumps. also, they left out how the vapor recovery system works which is pretty cool. the alarm that sounds is really annoying (its in my office) and, for me, always goes off due to bad discriminating leak sensors (i think that's what they're called), i've replaced a few already and those suckers cost like $560 at least. owning a gas station is NOT cheap

The horrendous framerate really added to the suspense and, eventually, comedic effect once the accident appeared.

I only wanted to know what happens if one of the pumps catches fire

This happens

This feels like a fallout-style propaganda video.

24-hour Gas station employee here. Those alarms aren't loud, and are only in a single closet that can only be heard from the bathrooms. They go off every time we run the store close and people simultaneously pump gas because the gas sold isn't recorded properly. None of the employees or management know what the alarm codes are, so if a leak were to happen we wouldn't know for up to 2 days when we get our next shipment of gas and the driver reads the alarm and fuel manager computer thing. But our store is really slow, some gas stations will get a gas truck every 3 hours.

Also, the overflow spills don't redirect spilled gas or rainwater into the tank, we have to go pump those out by hand otherwise they just pool in the overflow bucket.

I also want to let everyone know how hard it is to light gasoline with a cigarette. It's not really possible unless you attach a vacuum to the end of the cigarette and have a huge amount of airflow going through the cigarette to increase how much heat it outputs. the dangers of smoking near a pump is mostly from lighting a cigarette. However, I would definitely not recommend smoking near a pump, 10 feet away is fine though. Just make sure you are at least 20 feet away when lighting the cigarette. OSHA standards say to be at least 40 feet away at all times when smoking.

It's pretty funny though, if you drop a lit cigarette into gasoline the gasoline will put the cigarette out.

I don't know remotely anything about what you guys are talking about, but I just read that entire conversation.

Reminds me of when I used to play Quake on my 28.8k modem.

What state do you operate in? As far as I know, discriminating sensors aren't required, though they are convenient in that they tell you how worrying an alarm should be. Standard dumb liquid sensors do the job a whole lot cheaper, but then somebody has to figure out if you're looking at product or water.

But yeah, stuff ain't cheap. Some of the newer model vacuum sensors will run you at least 1k each. And those guys love to fail in strange and unusual ways.

Damn that one chick got vaporized

pretty close


pretty close

Gas station manager here. 99% of the time you dumb fucks can't do it right. Either inserting the card the wrong way, going way too fast, pulling it out all weird or some other bullshit because everytime I've gone out to see what's wrong it works for me the first time. Follow the instructions on the screen, it knows more than you do.

How in the hell do these businesses even find cameras that are this shitty.

I have an 8 camera security system at my house (only using 4 at the moment) that's vastly superior to this. Takes roughly a month before the DVR even fills up and begins overwriting.

I don't know the exact framerate off the top of my head, but it's real time 720p video. None of this 1 frame per 5 seconds crap.

I just don't see how a system like the one this gas station uses could be useful or cost effective. You're losing so much activity in-between the frames.

Was this video made using financial contributions from the Koch brothers?

i'm in NJ. i was told the same thing about the standard liquid sensors and would much rather use those, does that require any change to the veeder root though? i have one sensor that keeps going off even after replacement that i simply put a resistor in the veeder root just to shut it up, each repair call was costing me so much and it would never be fixed.

I was expecting more.

This would actually be pretty hard to do. the lines are going to be full of gasoline and therefore would lack the oxygen to ignite. In effect, if you were to somehow transport yourself in to the take without a big opening, you actually wouldn't be able to ignite the fumes in it since the ration of vapour to air would be too high. Gasoline actually has a pretty narrow range of flammability 1.2-7.1. That is if the ratio of gasoline to air is above 7.1% or lower than 1.2%, it will not sustain it's self or explode.

This is why it's safer to have a full tank of gas then an empty one since a full tank won't explode as easily since it would almost always be above the upper limit. An empty tank will almost always still contain some fumes and since there is more space for air.

It was paid for by API and was just an infomercial about why you shouldn't worry about the gas station next door. Whilst leaving many safety questions answered and doesn't reveal how many stations have older tanks and equipment etc. that doesn't meet those specs.

Oh my god so much. I was feeling nice and safe until near then end, then I realised it's just going to blow up and there's nothing we can do about it.

The pumps are in the tank. They are submersible pumps. You mean the dispenser. You would have learned that if this was actually an informative video of how gas stations work, as opposed to a bullshit propaganda video about how safe oil derivatives are.

E: A nice study about how much fuel leaks above ground during normal operations. Spoliler: It is 1500 liters per station per decade. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141007103102.htm

What's important is that you feel good about gas stations. Gas stations are your friends. They protect the environment and feature the latest safety technology to keep you safe. Oil and gas - what a lovely world :)

Wow a video mentioning cathodic protection. That's what I do! Anyone with questions about cathodic protection please let me know. It's a fascinating industry.

Even if they catch a criminal act, you couldn't identify anyone from that

If you can run fast enough, you could get into the little store without the cameras ever knowing you were there

2 tanks. one tank is 15,000 gallons regular only, the second tank is a split tank, 8000 for supreme, 7000 for diesel. Mid grade is made by blending a 1:3 ratio of supreme to regular, the blending is done at the dispensers

I'm not well versed in the NJ standards, but I'd assume they're not as stringent as CA.

It would probably require some minor reprogramming, liquids all plug into the same kind of ports but the system had to know what kind of information to expect. Though having a sensor that keeps going off after replacement is usually a bad sign, depending on the alarm. Perhaps something is wired wrong somewhere (I've seen intermittent issues from interference or slightly damaged wiring). If the tech keeps looking at it as a bad sensor, they might be taking the easy way out. Process of elimination and all that.

Every 3 hours? Holy shit where's that gaz station at? And you mean those giant tanker trucks empty themselves completely?

needs more jpeg.

There you go!

I am a bot


There's not enough air underground to allow a storage tank to blow up.

I've been to several burnt out gas stations on inspections, and it's always the building that's damaged by fire rather than the UST system.

I do gas station UST compliance and enforcement for the state of New Jersey DEP. They also don't mention that the majority of station owners have the "LOL environment requirements don't matter to me" until we show up and drop a $85,000 fine. That then goes to superior court and after we have a judgement in our favor (100% conviction rate) they get to "LOL not paying that shit" and get a lein on the property they will never sell. Yay.

My station is decently busy but we get a load every 1 to 3 days. Those trucks have at least 4 compartments in them so one truck can bring me premium, regular and diesel at once. They hold around 8,000 gallons or so. I doubt there's a place that gets a load every 3 hours. They would have to be selling a few thousand gallons of fuel an hour.


Yet the credit card reader on the pump is almost always broken.

Guessing that it won't freeze in the winter and conducts electricity better?

I'd bet any station built in the past ten years does. Any station older than twenty probably does not. The station I work at is older than twenty years. I laughed out loud at the double-walled storage tanks. That would be nice. Once a week I am "required" to do a manual stick reading to check for water in the tank ( it would be bad for your engine if you got water in it - it would be bad for my job if the water came from my fuel dispenser) and I have been specifically instructed not to drop the stick in for fear of puncturing the fiber glass tank.

You better believe I lower that stick gently. When I remember to do that check, I mean.

Simple, it's old.

The video is from 2010 (if the time stamp on the video is correct). If the security system it's self was 5-7 years old at that time (still relatively new from a business perspective) then most digital cameras for this kind of thing would have been standard def or lower and storage space for 24/7 video would have been limiting the frame rate.

Your system is between 10 and 20 years newer and a lot has happened in digital video and storage in the last 10-15 years.

Sees picture of tank carried by the crane

"Oh, that's not as big as I thought. I guess it doesn't have to -

Sees picture of tank in the ground

"Oh, holy shit."

Im a petroleum technician and I've worked on hundreds of gas stations in the western US. I have never seen this system or anything like it installed anywhere

They are obvious when you see one. They are also rare. Here's a photo. I feel sorry for people that suddenly believe a fire at a gas station will automatically be put out.


They are obvious when you see one. They are also rare. Here's a photo. I feel sorry for people that suddenly believe a fire at a gas station will automatically be put out.

"An alarm will sound"

We ignore those alarms because they go off constantly over nothing.

Yeah, that was like a "How cars work" video talking exclusively about airbags, crumple zones, and seat belts.

If you have a discriminating sensor it's probably a "3-wire" type. Dual float or optical... a standard tri-state (208 sensor) is a two wire type and requires a different module than the other. Depending on if your VR is a 350 or 450 with available slots for the necessary module will determine if you can add the module.

Open the right hand door (not the printer) and look in the right hand set of bays (the intrinsically safe side) and see if you have a open slot.

You may also need a software upgrade...

Best to get your service Co out there to check it out and give you a quote. Tell them you want to switch to 208 sensors and wana know what it will cost. (208 sensors are about $150 each btw)

Don't let them tell you that you have to run new wire either... the same beldon cable is used for both, one just uses one less conductor.

If you have 2 wire discriminating (there are some but I don't remember the specific number) you can simply swap out the sensor and correct the programming for that sensor to tri-state rather than the discriminating type you had.

This is all easy and should cost less than $1000.

Btw discriminating sensors are a pain in the butt for sure!

Source - former UST service tech.

and propane accessories. -Hank Hill

Oh no baby what is you doin

needs more jpeg.

That sounds like several Costco gas stations I've been to but I'm willing to bet they also have larger than usual gas reservoirs.


nah, this is expensive:

Lol, you sound like my trainer when I apprenticed as a fuel tech. Day one of training was mostly him telling us he will fire is if we call a dispenser a pump.

You should always use regular unless you have a high end sports car that specifies premium in the manual (or on the fuel lid). That is a small fraction of cars. I saw this a few days ago


99% of all the people bitching at me about the pumps mess up a simple step and think I personally just shit on their great-grandmothers face.

Not having one of those when you need it is even more expensive probably.

they're going to rely on eyewitness identification anyway.

they wouldn't have to if they had a better camera. Eyewitness testimonies are extremely unreliable.

I spent four years working at a gas station, the only alarm I ever heard was the "swap out the hotdogs" alarm.

I don't think that I've ever been to Costco with a single unused pump. There is always a line at every one at least 5 deep. Not only is their gas a great price, it's top tier.

needs even more jpeg.

There you go!

I am a bot


Non-terrible video of different station:

gas varies widely and costco is a bulk membership store with greatly reduced prices to members.

Top tier is additives and less ethanol.

Not sports cars, any car with higher compression which covers many every day cars now. Listen to what is written on your gas door.

needs even more jpeg.

You make sure that the entire tank is moist and flavorful.

It's an interesting video. I find all the measures against leaking interesting when frackers refuse to explain what chemicals they are pumping into the ground.

I didn't even see a fire, what triggered that?

It seems like midgrade is a ripoff then - it's almost always priced right in between premium and regular. For example, premiums is $2.60/gallon and regular is $2.30/gallon the. Midgrade would be $2.45/gallon. Wouldn't it make more sense financially to pump 1/3 premium into your tank and then regular for the rest?

Someone pressed the fire alarm button

Seriously, it is like it aimed at her instead of the fire.

Ever seen welders work on large above ground gasoline tanks - welding brackets etc? They fill them to the top and commence welding. Supposedly you can hear the liquid hissing inside. If the tanks can't be filled they throw in slabs of dry ice and let them fill with co2. That I have seen.

But do the flames reach the tank eventually?

And if you timed it right, you could leave the store while the camera was blinking.

Why do they use brine inside the double walls?

Don't know about Western US but they're definitely in the New England area

America is so weird, gas costs basically the same everywhere here in Ireland and it's all just gas. "Top tier" doesn't even make sense to me.

this feels like /sub/procrastinationvideos

As I understand they usually have separate tanks for regular and for premium. Intermediate grades are made by combining regular and premium in the correct ratio.

Or the receipt dispenser.

When I read the title I thought to myself "Not really, but fuck it why not"

Reddit is awesome I was a civil engineer undergrad and this is truly "CEPorn".

That's an expensive alarm button

Yup. The lower freezing point is a big deal and the storage tanks have water sensors included for other reasons.

America has standards that gas needs to have a minimum level of detergents in it to keep the engine running cleaner and reduce buildup on engine components. Top tier stations go a step above and exceed government minimums which is good for your engine. Most brand names are top tier, places that sell generic gas usually aren't.

With that said most Americans aren't aware of the difference.

Whoa! Your modem can run Quake? My modem doesn't even have a graphics card.

I find it fascinating that this is accepted for something as critical as a gas storage tank yet people still debate if it works for vehicle rust protection. I had no idea that it was being used for this purpose.

I worked at a gas station for 6 years and the hot dog alarm didn't go off even once. Although about 4 years in we swapped the last remaining dog with an entire tray of new ones.

Per another thread asking this same question: there are filters in the dispensers themselves, so shouldn't be a problem.

There's also a fuel filter in your vehicle (that you should probably have changed every couple of years). So should be doubly not a problem.

Most cameras are to catch employee theft. Other incidents are rare enough that they're not worth calculating costs. In the event of an armed robbery they're going to rely on eyewitness identification anyway.

Especially when it it kills

Although I suppose its better than when a hanger full of jet fuel and bombs raging uncontrolled.

The fuck? I have never heard an alarm at a gas station..


If this kind of stuff interests you, here is how the nozzle itself knows when to shut off:

I refuel my car at an unattended station where the locking mechanism has been removed. You have to manually keep the handle pressed (or jam it open). The safety features still work. Once the nozzle shuts off you can keep the lever pressed while returning the nozzle to the pump without it reopening.

So... there was a green pipe that made it looks like the diesel and gas are in the same tank? Or are they stored in different tanks?

What's the ATG wall unit and why is it important to know where it is?

Needs even even more jpeg.

Probably not all. Those companies know they're working in a risky industry and if a major event occurs, most are aware that they would lost potentially billions of dollars depending on how severe the incident was.

I inspect those stations. Almost every clerk calls the dispensers pumps because that's what the general public calls them.

I'm also constantly disappointed at the number of clerks who don't know what the ATG wall unit is or where it's located.

NJ is SUPER strict. Very much on par with Cal EPA. I do enforcement work with NJDEP

Pretty much a wives tale. Drop your gas tank, and look inside it. You should see a pristine clean tank even after 200k miles.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that unless those mechanisms saved the company money, every single one of those measures was fought against.

Most tanks are coated with and the cathodic protection basically protects the areas that aren't, so essentially it's a backup to a backup in the system.

CP can work on vehicles, but mostly in terms of galvanizing. In order to have a corrosion cell you need an anode, cathode, metallic path, and electrolyte. Most car parts only corrode when they are wet/slushy the rest of the time there is no electrolyte (water). Good coatings work best on cars more than anything to protect them from rusting.

go inside to get your receipt (and join the huge ass queue you wanted to avoid in the first place)

Meh, sticking tanks is still really common in new stations because double float sensors aren't super common (because $$). Though striker plates under the access point are very common so you CAN drop it on in.

It's the cimputer that tells you how the tanks are doing. Level of product, which turbine is running, line pressure, and most importantly if there are any issues (i.e. leaks). People working at the gas stations really need to be aware of it. In CA they're actually not allowed to work without a minimum of training.

Do you work with boats or bridges? Seems that those are the two things that always come to mind when i hear about cathodes.


I've had people come in pissed that our damn pumps never read their card, so I go out there and do it for them and it works. Seems to irritate them more. I've had them complain about the lack of instructions, then I point out all the stickers and graphics on the pump and screens.