It's the law: no self-serve gasoline

Why do gas station attendants make such a big deal when someone tries to pump their own gas? Every time I see a motorcycle pull up to the pump, the attendant comes over and hands the pump over to the customer to pump his own gas. Is it a state law that there is no self server or not? I would much rather pump my own!

— Rick, Central Point

Rick, we're about to spew a little gas ourselves. Trying to find someone who will verify (on the record) facts which we already know — like, say, the reason attendants make "such a big deal" about pumping your own gas is because state law prohibits customers (in most cases) from doing so — is taking a bit more time than we have temper.

After calling numerous local stations, and repeatedly getting the less-than-helpful anonymous answer of "It's a state law" (click), we were eventually advised by a corporate receptionist to call the fire marshal.

Yes, we know the fire marshal oversees these laws. But apparently these gas guys have been sucking fumes too long to understand the fundamentals of Since You Asked. We ask the question, on your behalf, and they answer. It's really very simple.

However, we are nothing if not diligent. So we slogged on and called a couple gas wholesalers. And we hit a gusher. Well, at least we hit someone who was helpful enough to lend his name to this issue.

Thank you, Marv Terry of Medford Fuel.

Under most circumstances, an attendant must pump all vehicles' gas, per state law. (See! We told you!)

Automatic shut-off nozzles are designed for typical car tanks, says Terry.

"The nozzle is set up to shut off in these types of fueling tanks," says Terry.

But, in other tanks (like motorcycle tanks) the automatic shut-off doesn't work. And even when you've seen customers filling their motorcycle tanks, their pumping is being attended by a station employee, per the law, Terry says.

There are a couple other exemptions to the filling laws. Commercial companies can be exempt if they receive special training and pump a certain amount of fuel, Terry says.

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