There are several theories about why static fires at the pumps seem to be occurring more often now. One of the theories is the almost universal switch to self-serve pumps and others hiring newbie pump servers, which require millions of people who are unfamiliar with the volatility of gasoline to handle it once or twice a week. Also, vehicles today have more electronics – CD players, geo-positioning systems, satellite radios, cruise control, ABS, onboard diagnostics, and electronically controlled fuel injection. Those elements, plus nylon seat covers, could create more static and a greater potential for static buildup.
Other theories include: more volatile fuels – fuel meant to be sold during cold weather is blended to be more volatile; tires – less carbon and more silica in them; fill pipe cover release inside the vehicles; and dissimilar automobile parts, such as plastic and metal.
These are the reasons why it is important to always take note and post the Safety Guidelines when Refueling.
Beaty, William J. “Static Electricity” Means “High Voltage,” http://www.amasci.com/emotor/voltmeas.html. 1999.
Static Electricity Fires – How to Prevent Them [PDF]. (n.d.). West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University.