By MADELINE SCHINDLER
Woodrow Schaffer and his son, Allan Tan, were headed home to Newnan after visiting family in Jackson, Tenn., when they stopped at a RaceWay convenience store in Jackson to refuel.
As Schaffer stopped at the gas station, he noticed a 12-passenger Mercedes van parked at a gas pump. Inside the van were six children, who were unattended while the van was left running. The automatic clip on the fuel nozzle was stuck, causing the fuel tank to overflow.
The father and son team jumped into action, with Tan gathering all of the children and ushering them to safety, while Schaffer successfully stopped the gas nozzle.
Schaffer found the children’s guardian in the convenience store and alerted her of the incident. A gas station clerk called the local fire department to inform them of the fuel spill.
The children's guardian moved the van to a safe distance and proceeded to reload the children back into their car seats. After she left, the maintenance personnel roped off the unsafe areas and waited for fire officials to clean the fuel spill properly.
According to Lisa Hartman, industrial and chemical engineering division manager for the National Fire Protection Association, fuel delivery hoses and nozzles are designed to prevent gasoline overflow.
“In the unlikely event of a gasoline overflow from a fill delivery nozzle, the consumer should immediately leave the area. The overflow of gasoline represents an immediate flammability danger and safety concern,” said Hartman. “The consumer should seek out the attendant to handle the emergency response.”
Schaffer and his son acted appropriately by removing the children from the van and calling the local fire department.
Schaffer said he is proud of his son’s brave actions and wants people to know that situations like this are not to be taken lightly.
“I want others to know of Allan’s kindness and quick thinking,” said Schaffer.
For more information about operating requirements at fuel dispensing facilities and special instructions for emergency situations, please see the NFPA 30A Code for Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages. All NFPA codes and standards are available online in read-only format.
Additional information about fueling safety is available at http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/property-type-and-vehicles/vehicles/service-station-safety/service-station-safety-tips