You couldn't be Maude wrong: Fire Brigade slams 'jerry can' advice

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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has criticised Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude for suggesting today that "a bit of extra fuel in a jerry can in the garage is a sensible precaution to take," to mitigate the effects of a fuel tanker drivers' strike.

The FBU has urged Mr Maude to withdraw the advice, saying it could pose a "disastrous" risk.

FBU secretary Matt Wrack said that it creates "real danger the public will start storing fuel in inappropriate ways."

"The general public does not properly understand the fire and explosion risk of storing fuel, even if it was done sensibly," he explained. "Those without garages may be tempted to store fuel in the home. In the event of a fire in the house or a neighbouring property, it would be disastrous."

A household is allowed to store no more than ten litres of fuel in two five-litre plastic containers. "As that amounts to little more than a third of a tank in most cars, the advice is of little practical help," said Mr Wrack.

In fact, it's not even a fifth of the capacity of some family cars: the fuel tank of our long-term Ford Focus holds 55 litres.

David Cameron has moved to dampen the suggestion that the Government is prompting panic buying. He said: "There is no imminent strike. The unions would have to give seven days' notice of any strike so there is no need to queue to buy petrol

"If there is an opportunity to top up your tank if a strike is potentially on the way, then it is a sensible thing if you are able to do that."

Nonetheless, there are already reports of pumps running dry across the UK.