Vineyard fire chiefs to track derelict propane tanks

The Vineyard's fire chiefs want property owners to report derelict propane tanks.

The Dukes County Fire Chiefs Association is seeking the public’s assistance with identifying derelict propane tanks. Several departments have posted a form people can fill out to notify the chiefs association of a derelict tank. 

“With an unprecedented amount of propane account changes with tank removals being seen throughout Dukes County, we are looking for some assistance to gather information on tanks that may be left on your property after the changeover,” the post states. “While it is your responsibility to notify the outgoing provider, we recognize that people have had some issues making contact. Please use this link to fill out a form provided by your local fire departments in an effort to rectify the unpermitted tanks within our communities.”

While not stated explicitly in the post, the problem stems from disgruntled AmeriGas customers (d.b.a. Vineyard Propane) switching to other on-Island propane providers. Since companies generally lease tanks to customers, and since each company is only allowed to fill and service tanks it provides, switchovers can leave customers with a new tank and an old tank on their property. It’s the old tank that concerns the fire chiefs, as they are considered unpermitted hazards. AmeriGas has been accused of being slow to collect its tanks after a customer drops the service. 

Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer told The Times he, Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland, and former Tisbury Chief John Schilling have had conferences with the state fire marshal and a Boston-based representative from AmeriGas regarding the issue. Chief Schaeffer said AmeriGas is in the process of returning its phone connections on the Vineyard back to the local office, as opposed to an off-Island call center. 

Chief Schaeffer didn’t indicate how many derelict tanks the chiefs estimate are on the Vineyard, but he said hopefully folks filling out the form will help the chiefs get a stronger understanding.