Massachusetts is a hotbed of Puritanism. As late as 1990, you used to have to go to New Hampshire to buy beer on Sunday, “Banned in Boston” is a cultural meme and you still can’t make or sell any candy with more than 1 percent alcohol. But up to now, none of that has even remotely reached the inconvenience of Massachusetts’ restriction on those little hold-open doohickeys on the gas pump.
BestRide HQ is located in Massachusetts, so this one hits home for us.
Oh, we looked on at our friends in other states, who could fill up with hands stashed comfortably in coat pockets, while we were forced to not only stand outside at a self-service pump, but to hang onto the cold, steel nozzle as we filled our tank.
In case you weren’t aware, Massachusetts has winter approximately 11 months of the year. On 25 of the other 31 days, it’s cold and rainy.
Conveniently, or state legislature banned hold-open clips, whether they were supplied by fuel pump manufacturers, or the aftermarket, making it illegal to hold the fuel nozzle open by any means within the Commonwealth. Massachusetts is the only state in America where such clips are banned, and they’ve been outlawed since the advent of the self-service pump in the 1970s.
Apparently, after 49 states have allowed their use for the better part of four decades with hardly an incident, the patriarchal Fire Safety Department of the Commonwealth has decided to relent and keep us all from freezing to death.
According to WGBH, this merciful revision is part of a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s fire code. As of January 1, Massachusetts will move from its own state-specific fire code to a version of the National Fire Protection Association code.
Massachusetts has an interesting history with massive fires that shaped the fire code here. The National Fire Protection Association has been headquartered south of Boston since 1864, originally founded to encourage the use of fire sprinkler systems. On November 28, 1942, the popular Cocoanut Grove nightclub burst into flame, killing 492 people. It remains the second deadliest single-building fire in the nation’s history, and its impact is still felt today. Laws enacted after the Cocoanut Grove fire included the prohibition of flammable materials as decorations in nightclubs, as well as the elimination of inward-swinging fire exits. In 1973, fire broke out in the city of Chelsea, just north of Boston. The fire consumed 18 city blocks, destroyed 300 buildings, and displaced 1,000 people from their homes.
State Fire Marshall Stephen Coan told WGBH that he still has concerns about the clips, mostly around people leaving the pump to get coffee in the Cumberland Farms, and getting back in the car while the pump is on, which can generate static electricity and cause a fire.
“It’s important that as we do this that people have due diligence and they realize that filling up of gasoline in a vehicle needs to be observed, and they need to stay there,” he said.