Hawaiʻi Can Refuel Hands Free With State Fire Code Amendment
The State Fire Code was amended to allow new and existing fuel pumps to have a hold open latch, giving vehicle owners a “hands free” refueling experience.
While the addition of a gas pump latch will be an added amenity for most residents, it is a necessity for people who experience chronic pain in their hands — such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Sally Oberle is an architect who acted as a citizen advocate to change the Fire Code. In 2013 she was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis. She said holding the fuel pump was impossible for her on some days.
"For a person with a disability, such as any kind of hand trauma or arthritis or other issue, it can really be a means of preserving independence," she told Hawaiʻi Public Radio. "Currently, you have to be able to squeeze and hold the nozzle open for extended periods of time which is really difficult if you’re experiencing any kind of pain in your hand."
"While gas station attendants may be willing to come and hold that open for you, they’re not always available, especially if there’s only one person on duty," she said. "This is a big advantage for our aging community, as well as anybody with disabilities regardless of age."
The new State Fire Code became effective in January and Hawaiʻi's four counties have until 2023 to adopt it.