Oregon is the only state besides New Jersey than regularly bans self-serve gas, but all that changed this week as a heat wave took over.
Governor Kate Brown’s heat emergency declaration on Wednesday prompted the Oregon State Fire Marshal to temporarily authorize self-serve gas in 25 Oregon counties. That includes Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook counties — a move meant to provide some relief for gas station attendants forced to work in the heat.
On Thursday, gas station workers at ARCO in Bend said only one person had served their own gas during the day.
Station attendant Kameron Fritz said he believed most people would be able to do it themselves if given the chance, despite Oregon’s usual ban.
“Most people just look at us doing it throughout the times they come and just get the hang of it,” he said. “A lot of people just come from out of state and whatnot so they already know how to pump their own gas, because they’re out of state, or visited enough times.”
Central Oregon Daily News spoke with more than a dozen visitors at ARCO and only a couple of them could not pump their own gas or hadn’t done so in awhile.
“I can certainly pump my own gas,” said John Bell from Bend, “I can do unleaded, unleaded plus, and unleaded premium, left handed or right handed. I’ve been pumping my own gas since the 1970’s!”
Visitor Dave Albert said he’d known how to pump gas since childhood.
“I worked at a gas station as a kid for years and pumped gallons and gallons of gas,” he said.
“I can do unleaded, unleaded plus, and unleaded premium, left handed or right handed.” — John Bell
For others, it was a new experience — like me. An Oregon native, I have never pumped gas before Thursday. Fritz guided me through the process.
Many visitors at the gas station thought the temporary allowance was a good idea.
“Considering the fact that a lot of places are understaffed it gives people a chance to prevent long lines like this,” said Blake Knirk of Bend. “Central Oregon closes pretty early, so now I think that’s something that should’ve been in effect for awhile, but it’s something now.”
“I’d like to give these guys a break,” Bell added. “They’re out here hours at a time, pumping gas for all these fine people coming in from all over the Northwest and so if you can pump it yourself, that’s a great benefit for them.”
Others thought there were decent reasons for sticking with non-self-serve on a regular basis.
“The fact that they don’t makes an employment opportunity for those who would probably not have one otherwise, I think that’s good of Oregon to make that kind of employment available,” Albert said.
“They’re out here hours at a time, pumping gas for all these fine people coming in from all over the Northwest and so if you can pump it yourself, that’s a great benefit for them.” — John Bell
The excessive high heat emergency order covers the following counties: Columbia, Clackamas, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler and Yamhill.
The temporary self-service authorization in those counties will officially expire at 11:59 p.m. on July 31, 2022.
Oregon’s State Fire Marshal also allowed self-serve gas during the pandemic due to labor shortages, and during the 2021 summer heat wave.