14 February 2012

VST Nozzle Latches removed in California

In 2010, a judge in California, USA, upheld the state's fire marshal's order for the removal of hold-open latch to be removed from nozzles manufactured by Vapor System Technologies LLC. The state's fire marshal, which is affiliated to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, deemed the defective nozzles to be a fire hazard.

Apparently, a manufacturing defect in VST's nozzles caused 13 incidents where petrol has been sprayed (at the nozzle) before the nozzle was inserted into the vehicle. This happened because the hold-open latch did not disengage after earlier customers used the petrol pump.

The fire marshal's order affected some 3,000 petrol stations in the state of California. The good news was that the fire marshal was working with VST and other petrol nozzle manufacturers to replace the defective VST nozzles with new, safer petrol nozzles with hold-open latches. (At least, that's what the circular dated 23rd August 2010 said.)

Customers who were frustrated with the fire marshal's order to remove the hold-open latches had used other items to keep the latches open, such as "wallets, keys, sunglass holders, tennis balls". Petrol station owners were disappointed with the order because they felt that they would lose business.

“A lot of people have lost business. A little old lady comes in to buy gas; she doesn’t want to stand there and hold that nozzle,” Campbell said. “We felt there could have been a better decision from the state.” (Source: OC Register)

What is disappointing, is the attitude of the company which manufactured the defective nozzles.
Officials from Vapor Systems Technologies said there is nothing inherently wrong with the nozzle.

Todd Sorrell, spokesman for the company, said the majority of malfunctioning nozzles had surpassed their one-year warranty when the incidents occurred. Indeed, “all gasoline nozzles, or any mechanical device for that matter, will eventually fail for some reason,” wrote Glenn K. Walker, Vapor Systems president, in a letter dated June 21, 2010, to California service stations.

The company says the nozzles were damaged by wear and tear. According to the company, every month there are 2,000 drive-offs or breakaways involving its nozzles at California gas stations. A drive-off is when a customer forgets the nozzle in the gas tank and begins to drive away from the pump. (Source: CaliforniaWatch)