SEATTLE -- Mobile fueling is a relatively new service model—so much so that some local fire marshals have struggled to develop regulations for the many startups entering the business. Most recently, Filld, one of the first on-demand fueling operations, has been ordered to suspend its on-street fueling service in Seattle by the local fire marshal, GeekWire reported.
In March 2018, Filld launched a pilot program to fuel up a consumers’ vehicles wherever they are parked, expanding beyond its fleet offer, which is also available in Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, British Columbia. Filld offers a fill-up for below the average price of gas stations in its markets (not including a $3 to $9 delivery fee).
Then, in July, the Seattle fire marshal sent a stop work order to Filld related to the consumer pilot, finding it in violation of local fire codes about storing, handling or using flammable or combustible liquids. It ordered Filld to halt these activities until it received an operational permit from the Seattle Fire Department.
Since then, Filld has been negotiating with the Seattle Fire Department on the conditions required to operate legally with its current business model, GeekWire reported. In particular, Filld wants to continue to fuel up consumers’ vehicles on the street instead of in a parking lot.
The mobile fueling service has targeted Seattle as a growth market because it is the base for several car-hailing companies and because the number of gas stations there is falling, Pierson Stoecklein, senior counsel for Filld, Mountain View, Calif., told GeekWire.
“If we can’t get on-street fueling resolved, then we won’t be able to do that in the city of Seattle, which means that we won’t be able to provide that really beneficial service to the car-sharing companies, and that’s a big deal,” Stoecklein said.
“Filld is in ongoing conversations with the Seattle Fire Department to reach a set of permit conditions that allow the company to operate under the current business model,” Stoecklein told CSP Daily News via e-mail. “The company hopes Seattle follows the lead of other major cities, such as Washington, D.C., which are embracing innovation and investing in the many different transformations in the mobility space, particularly with respect to car-share fleets like those operated by Car2Go and ReachNow. Filld strongly believes an agreement can be reached that prioritizes public safety while allowing Filld to deliver to prospective customers the many significant benefits of the service.”
Last fall, Filld CEO Michael Buhr told CSP Daily News that safety is a key factor as it grows into new markets. "We’re a very regulatory-first business," he said. "In all markets, we spend six months or more before a launch with the right local enforcement regulatory agencies."
Filld is negotiating with local fire marshals in markets such as Seattle as it expands its mobile fueling services into Canada and forms supply partnerships with traditional fuel retailers such as Parkland Fuel.