Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Post-TEOTWAWKI: Where to fill up?


Subject: Where can a fictional hero get fuel in a post-apocalyptic world?

I am writing a fictional story. Basically, the "poop has hit the fan" in the U.S. Our fictional hero has squared himself away quite well with a rural retreat BUT has found himself caught in a large urban area with the tanks on his BOV sorely low on fuel. After slapping himself in the head numerous times, he checks his list of handy-dandy spots to get gasoline or diesel after the end times are upon the land and all the gas stations are empty or burned to the ground.

So here are a list of places any imaginary survivor might find fuel after the lights are out and the stores are closed indefinitely!

- Places of business. How many companies have fuel pumps on site? Lots. Think trucking companies, commercial delivery services, parcel services, couriers, and taxi companies. And what about the mega car sales lots? Most have to have gas and diesel pumps and storage tanks on site.

- How about government facilities? Police and fire stations, ambulance services, and some federal offices all have their own pumping facilities.

- Truck depots and warehouses. Any place an 18-wheeler or two or a few dozen have been left for loading and unloading. Those tanks might be full or hold only a few gallons. Beggars cannot be choosers.

- Forget vehicles, what about generators? Some run on gasoline, others on diesel. Find generators behind office buildings or any other facility which must have redundant power. In a SHTF situation, nobody will be going to work at the local high rise, but the generators out back probably still have a few choice gallons left. Did you think of this gem? Cellular towers and phone switching stations both have backup generators.

- Been working on the railroad? Train engines, (diesel pushers) have massive tanks which can hold hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. Train on siding and not running? You have a filling station.

- Odd ball places. A golf course might have a gas pump in the maintenance shed at the course. A funeral home might as well. Why? Both have multiple pickup trucks and tractors which are used exclusively on the grounds. Having the vehicles licensed and tagged to drive the city streets for fill ups is an extra expense. Better to keep the fuel on site.

- The obvious. Parked cars. Now before our hero runs next door to siphon someone's Subaru, he should be aware that the owner of the vehicle may still be around and may take offense at his lack of discretion. Rather, where might one find lots of vehicles and potentially plenty of unclaimed fuel? Why the airport of course in long term parking! The owners are somewhere else faraway. If our hero can make it to the airport, he can find numerous vehicles containing rapidly degrading fuel.

Remember, this is purely a fictional situation which I have been mulling over. If you find yourself someday writing your own story, perhaps your hero and mine will run into each other.

2 comments:

blockwarden said...

Some run on gasoline, others on diesel. Find generators behind office buildings or any other facility which must have redundant power. In a SHTF situation, nobody will be going to work at the local high rise, but the generators out back probably still have a few choice gallons left. Did you think of this gem? Cellular towers and phone switching stations both have backup generators.

Most, if not all, would be drained dry in the process of keeping the power on until the bitter end. Automatic transfer switches and all...

The other ideas could be pretty sound depending on the situation and the competition that the "hero" faces from others.

The main reason that I poo poo the business generators is the fact that we have a semi truck sized one at my office that would consume all fuel until it quit before leaving the building un-powered, most, if not all commercial installations operate in this manner.

John said...

block
Thanks for reading.
Yes, many generators might be empty, but consider two scenarios which may prove otherwise.
- the popular "EMP" burst scenario which would render the switching capability (circuitry, etc) null and void.
- We had a generator on our data center in Houston during a flood in the late 90's. When we finally made it to the facility (now off city power) we found the generator shut down, but there were still 2 or 3 gallons in the tanks. Like a car out of fuel, there is often a bit left in the tanks.
Thanks for your comment.

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