Petroleum spirit may be kept for use in internal combustion engines in accordance with the Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc.,) Regulations 1929 and the Petroleum Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982.

These Regulations have been framed with the object of preventing the outbreak of fire and the various consequences that may result.

The following paragraphs explain the requirements of these Regulations.

The Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc.) Regulations 1929

Not more than 275 litres shall be kept in any one store (petroleum spirit in the fuel tank of an internal combustion engine within a storage place shall be deemed to be kept in the storage place). Storage places shall be more than 6 metres apart.

A storage place shall :-

  • Be ventilated to the open air and have an entrance direct to the open air (unless it is in the open air)
  • Have appropriate fire extinguishing apparatus for petroleum spirit or a supply of sand
  • Not be attached to any building used as a dwelling or place where people assemble for other purposes, unless it is separated by a fire resisting floor or partition

Petroleum spirit shall not be kept in a vessel exceeding 10 litres unless the storage place is more than 6 metres from any building, highway or public footpath, or have an excavation or retaining wall to stop petroleum spirit flowing from the storage place. Written notice that petroleum spirit is proposed to be kept at the premises shall be sent to the local authority, and annually thereafter each January.

If the store is within 6 metres of any building, highway or public footpath, then the petroleum spirit shall be kept in the fuel tank of an internal combustion engine or in two other vessels not exceeding 10 litres. A written notice that petroleum spirit is proposed to be kept at the premises shall be sent to the local authority, and annually thereafter each January.

All reasonable precautions shall be taken to prevent fire or artificial light from igniting petroleum vapour.

Two vessels may be kept other than in "the store" provided that the area in which they are kept is fitted with a self-closing fire resisting door if it is attached to a dwelling (i.e., the door from a garage to the house).

You should not keep petroleum under the stairs.

Do not use petroleum spirit near fire or artificial light liable to ignite the vapour. Other than for use in an internal combustion engine, petroleum spirit should only be used as fuel for a lamp or other apparatus used for the purpose of lighting or heating, which is constructed and maintained in such condition as not to be liable to ignite inflammable vapour otherwise than as such fuel; and in quantities not exceeding at any one time 150ml, for cleaning or as a solvent for repair purposes.

No person shall wilfully or negligently empty, turn or permit to enter into any sewer, or any drain communicating with a sewer, any petroleum spirit.

Metal vessels used for the storage of petroleum spirit shall be :-
  • Maintained reasonably secure against breakage
  • Prevented from permitting the leakage of liquid or vapour
  • Indelibly labelled with the words "PETROLEUM SPIRIT HIGHLY FLAMMABLE". (This requirement excludes petrol tanks affixed to an internal combustion engine)
Plastic containers manufactured or supplied for use at work as containers for petroleum spirit.
It shall be the duty of any person who manufactures, imports or supplies any plastic container for use at work as a container for petroleum spirit to ensure that it :-
  • Is made of suitable materials which are safe for the purpose and which ensure that the performance of the container is not significantly diminished by exposure to naturally occurring ultra-violet radiation
  • Has a nominal capacity of 5 litres or less and a total capacity of at least 10% and not more than 15% greater than the nominal capacity; in this sub-paragraph "nominal capacity" means the maximum volume of liquid the Ccontainer is intended to hold at 20
  • Is designed and constructed so as to prevent any of the contents from escaping when subjected to the stresses and strains of normal keeping and use and to have the means whereby petroleum spirit can be poured safely from it
  • Is marked or labelled in accordance with the provisions set out in the Schedule to the Regulations
In any proceedings for an offence consisting of a contravention of the requirements of paragraph 6.1 above it shall be a defence for any person who supplied the plastic container but did not manufacture it to prove that they took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.
The plastic container shall bear legible, indelible and durable marking or labelling showing the following :-
  • The manufacturer's name
  • The month and year of manufacture
  • The nominal capacity of the container in litres and half litres rounded down to the nearest half litre below
  • The words and figures "Complies with S.I. 1982/630"
  • The words "PETROL" and "HIGHLY FLAMMABLE"
  • An appropriate hazard warning sign
  • An appropriate phrase or phrases in English indicating the precautions to be taken
The words and sign on the container in accordance with (e),(f) and (g) above shall be capable of being easily seen and read when the container is placed in a position in which it may normally be expected to be placed and shall stand out from their background so as to be readily noticeable.
Any label shall be securely fixed to the container with its entire surface adhering to it.
Not more than two plastic containers of petroleum spirit may be kept in or on any motor vehicle, motor boat or hovercraft or in any aircraft.
In addition to any petroleum spirit kept by virtue of paragraph 8(1) above, not more than two plastic containers of petroleum spirit may be kept :-
  • In any domestic premises (including the curtilage of such premises), provided that the place in which they are kept is safe
  • In any other safe place and for this purpose any two places not more than 6 metres apart occupied by the same occupier shall be treated as one place

Below is detailed guidance from HMSO on the safe keeping of petroleum spirit may be obtained from the following bibliography

  • The Petroleum Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982
  • The Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928
  • The Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles, Etc.) Regulations 1929

The publications can be obtained from the following contacts :-

HMSO The Stationary Office(Counter service)
123 Kingsway
Telephone 020 7242 6393
Fax :020 7242 6394
The Stationery Office(Mail, Telephone & Fax Orders)
PO Box 29
Telephone orders:0870 600 5522
Fax orders: 0870 600 5533
If any further clarification on the safe keeping of petroleum spirit is required, or guidance on Torbay Council interpretation on any of the above documents, do not hesitate to contact the local Petroleum Office dealing with your premises.