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rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
6/15/16 9:36 a.m.

Lately I've been thinking more about what a vehicle should carry in terms of fire extinguishers. It's not terribly uncommon for me to be in relatively un-traveled or remote areas where I'd be effectively on my own if I had an issue (or came across someone else with an issue).

Currently, I carry a single 5lb Purple K extinguisher mounted in the cargo area of the Jeep in a quick release bracket (reachable from the back seats or with the rear hatch or hatch window open). I figure this should be a good general-purpose extinguisher for a vehicle fire where the primary concern is likely a fuel or oil fed fire. However, this wouldn't be useful for an interior fire or a non-vehicle fire, so I've been looking at finding a second extinguisher to carry (haven't decided whether to go for a clean agent, ABC dry chem or something water / foam based).

What kinds of extinguishers do you guys carry (if any) in either a race car or DD? Any experience with dealing with a vehicle fire?

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
6/15/16 9:44 a.m.

Yeah. I have experience. A standard dry chemical fire extinguisher was useless. Actually, two of them were useless. The smaller one I had and the larger one the neighbor had. The whole Esprit burned to the ground in about 3 minutes.

I will go with a foam based system next time.

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
6/15/16 9:47 a.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: A standard dry chemical fire extinguisher was useless.

That's exactly why I went with Purple K over an ABC or standard BC dry chem. It's the most effective of the 3 on a liquid fueled fire (and less corrosive to electronics than ABC dry chem). However, I have questioned if a 5lb is enough to sort out anything beyond the small beginnings of a fire (probably enough if you pop an injector o-ring or something and get it shut down, stopped and sprayed fast, but no good for anything more).

WildScotsRacing
WildScotsRacing HalfDork
6/15/16 9:48 a.m.

Foam.

JBasham
JBasham Reader
6/15/16 9:51 a.m.

Right now I carry Halguard, but I'm interested in AFFF liquid foam. I can't seem to find liquid foam portables, though, only built-ins. They are popular in Europe as hand helds but not as much here.

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Reader
6/15/16 9:52 a.m.

I have normal handheld ABCs in both cars right now, so I'll be watching this with interest.

Kylini
Kylini HalfDork
6/15/16 9:58 a.m.

From my F&C fire class, ABC dry chem puts out most any fire quickly and works great both inside and on grass beneath the vehicle. It was also the easiest and most predictable extinguisher to handle (you didn't have to worry as much about flareups or the fire "escaping" around your spray). The downside is that it's a pain to clean up and could result in some bad corrosion in the future. This kind is also the cheapest.

Coldfire (water plus chemicals that make it usable on gasoline) was a pain in the butt and always took longer to successfully extinguish a blaze. If the nozzle doesn't allow you to create a wide area spray, you have to remember to use your finger in the heat of the moment. Flareups were extremely common, as this extinguisher works primarily by removing the heat; the fuel is still able to catch. I would only grab this bottle first for large area grass fires. All other times, I would prefer ABC dry chem.

Halon is great in small spaces for small fires. The second the fire spreads, you're screwed.

If you're using a pull-handle in-car extinguisher setup, AFFF foam is currently the best option. You definitely don't want to smother yourself in dry chem! I don't know much about AFFF handheld units.

In my Miata, I keep a 2.5 lb ABC dry chem mounted to the floor just in front of the passenger seat so if it breaks loose (it really shouldn't), it won't mess with the pedals. When I fix the Saturn...eventually...yeaaaaah...I'll mount a 10 lb ABC dry chem to the floor behind the driver seat. I'm not a fan of trunk extinguishers because if you need it, it should be accessible just standing next to the car with the door open. You don't want to be fiddling with a trunk and digging it out from under your crap.

If your car is on fire, get out. Forget about the extinguisher until you're out of the car. If your fire just requires some quick extinguishing, it can wait the 10 seconds it takes to get out, then turn around and grab the bottle. If not, run!

Kylini
Kylini HalfDork
6/15/16 10:01 a.m.
rslifkin wrote: However, I have questioned if a 5lb is enough to sort out anything beyond the small beginnings of a fire (probably enough if you pop an injector o-ring or something and get it shut down, stopped and sprayed fast, but no good for anything more).

Once a fire is truly started, no extinguisher is good enough to put it out. If you're in multiple compartments or your vehicle is still pumping fuel/oil/whatever into the blaze, forget about it.

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
6/15/16 10:04 a.m.
Kylini wrote:
rslifkin wrote: However, I have questioned if a 5lb is enough to sort out anything beyond the small beginnings of a fire (probably enough if you pop an injector o-ring or something and get it shut down, stopped and sprayed fast, but no good for anything more).
Once a fire is truly started, no extinguisher is good enough to put it out. If you're in multiple compartments or your vehicle is still pumping fuel/oil/whatever into the blaze, forget about it.

Definitely. Saving a situation like that would depend on getting the fuel cut off long before you even get the vehicle stopped to minimize the amount of burning liquid to deal with. Or even better, having an installed system that can be discharged while you're stopping (an installed setup is something I'm considering).

Saving any situation that's not very small would depend on what's burning, where it's burning and how much you've got to knock it down with. If something started by fuel hits the cabin, it's time to get the berkeley away from it as nothing I could carry in the vehicle would stand a chance.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/15/16 10:09 a.m.

I keep an ABC mounted in front of the driver's seat on both the track car and the tow vehicle. I can reach it while belted in but it's out of the way. On the Miata, it's bolted through the floor. On the big Dodge, I built a bracket to mount it to the front seat rail bolts.

Almost all fires start small, so I'd rather give myself the best chance to deal with it instead of standing there helpless.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/15/16 10:13 a.m.

AFFF type looks very interesting for its high effectiveness and easy cleanup. An ABC powder type assures the destruction of whatever you use it on, whether it puts out the fire or not.

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
6/15/16 10:17 a.m.

The biggest issue I'm seeing with AFFF type stuff is winter. There are plenty of solutions to freeze-proofing a water extinguisher, but I'm not finding much info on doing the same for AFFF.

java230
java230 Dork
6/15/16 10:23 a.m.

I have a dry ABC 5lb one, one thing to keep in midn is the powder will pack in them, especially in a vehicle. Its good practice to take them out and shake them once a month, mine is vertical so I smack the bottom with a mallet as well.

I have seen one car fire, by the time I ran to my car and grabbed the extinguisher (i was a couple hundred feet away at most) it was too late. It was useful for keeping the little firs in the grass and tress out around the car. It was a total loss though.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
6/15/16 10:24 a.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH:

That is what I used for the plumbed system in my race car and I can attest only to it being a fairly easy clean up. There was no fire... I triggered it accidentally and it soaked me as it's supposed to to buy me time to GTFO.

It does freeze though - and when it does it ruptures the membrane requiring a recharge so it's no good for anyplace cold.

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/15/16 10:44 a.m.

Almost all of the fires I've had to put out working races were put out with Cold Fire. We use that almost exclusively in the SW region and it just works. I've saved 4 cars from burning to the ground this year alone with that and had the fires out before the fire trucks even arrive on scene.

We use Purple K for the Nascar series and that would be my second choice but I think cold fire does a better job overall.

If you aren't going to plumb a halon or afff system in then I'd have a cold fire bottle in the car but in all honesty, the chances you will actually get to the bottle and be able to use it in time are rare because the fires main source will typically not be in the car cabin. I know I'd rather GTFO of the car vs. sitting there and messing with trying to fight the fire. That is what the good track safety teams are there for.

kb58
kb58 Dork
6/15/16 11:10 a.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: Yeah. I have experience. A standard dry chemical fire extinguisher was useless. Actually, two of them were useless. The smaller one I had and the larger one the neighbor had. The whole Esprit burned to the ground in about 3 minutes. I will go with a foam based system next time.

Odd you mention an Esprit. A buddy restored one from the ground up, got it ALL done, drove it to work, then ran out of gas on the way home. As he was filling the gas tank, fuel ran down from the filler and dripped on the exhaust and "poof", up it went. He said "If I'd had ONE more squirt from the extinguisher I'd have put it out." So regardless of type, get a larger size if at all possible.

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
6/15/16 11:37 a.m.

Looks like coldfire has a freeze-proof version (or add some non-flammable antifreeze to the standard one like you would with plain water).

I'm thinking my plan will be to do some measuring to see what I've got for space to put a second extinguisher in the Jeep where it's not likely to be damaged by anything and isn't in the way for DD use and get the biggest one of their units that'll fit. And I might consider upgrading the current 5lb Purple K to a 10lb one (probably high flow instead of standard flow). A 10lb would be the biggest that would fit well and mount solidly in my current mounting location.

For anyone curious about the mounting location for the current extinguisher, here's a picture of what the cargo area on the Jeep looks like (this isn't actually my Jeep). My extinguisher is mounted horizontally just below the rear-most passenger side window (just behind the rear seats) along that piece of plastic with the storage cubby below it. There's a convenient piece of metal behind that with a several inch gap behind it that the bracket is bolted to (bolts run through the plastic trim panel and that metal).

foxtrapper
foxtrapper UltimaDork
6/15/16 11:42 a.m.

I like powder, particularly PKP, and I like it in a large bottle.

Powder puts out everything, and stays there, keeping it out. It doesn't blow away in the wind or get dispersed.

Large because a little one is empty before you've got it aimed properly.

HunterBenz
HunterBenz Reader
6/15/16 11:52 a.m.

Having been on the scene of a vehicle for where one person didn't make it out. I second the sentiment of just GTFOing you and everyone else out of the car.

I rounded a corner to see a small fire under the front of a crashed car and people running to their truck (they were going to get something to break a window). By the time it took me to get about 500 yards at 45~50 mph the fire had completely engulfed the front of the vehicle and filled the car with smoke. By the time I got out of my car and got close to the car on fire, the entire car and the tree it crashed into was on fire and hanging over the car, and the passenger was hanging out of the window dead.

Unless your car is plumbed with some sort of foam system, it is realistically going to be totalled out anyway. Most fires in a car will disable the car where roadside repair is pretty unrealistic. For me, it is better to be stranded w/o a vehicle than to be stranded with a vehicle that was on fire, but not completely burned, and injured from said fire.

That being said, I have an extinguisher in my car, but it isn't for trying to save my car. It is more for trying to save people or other less dangerous fire related problems.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
6/15/16 12:03 p.m.

I must say, the explosions were spectacular. Tires, fuel filter, half full gas tanks, etc.

The Europa(s) will get a foam system. On the ships, that's what we always had for oil fires. A foam generator. High pressure water nozzles were just for repelling pirates and washing down the deck. Foam was for putting out fires.

foxtrapper
foxtrapper UltimaDork
6/15/16 12:14 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I mustFoam was for putting out fires.

Except when the flipp'n airdales wash the foam off.

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/15/16 12:51 p.m.

Another note for fire prevention, The most important thing you can do from a driver's prospective is cut the electronics and GTFO.

Cutting out the fuel pump from feeding the fire continuously is huge for trying to get a fire put out.

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
6/15/16 12:58 p.m.
bmw88rider wrote: Another note for fire prevention, The most important thing you can do from a driver's prospective is cut the electronics and GTFO. Cutting out the fuel pump from feeding the fire continuously is huge for trying to get a fire put out.

Agreed. I've seen a quick response keep the beginnings of an electrical fire down to an easily solved minor incident not requiring an extinguisher (there was plenty of smoke but nothing beyond the wiring had ignited yet). In that case, a few seconds longer before the power was cut would have led to burning carpet and a potentially much worse situation.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UltraDork
6/15/16 1:13 p.m.

PKP and ABC dry chem are really the only options for year round in places where it gets really cold. I've used both on car fires with success, but either will have corrosion issues on the electronics. If you get a refillable dry chemical extinguisher, which is usually bigger, you can fill it with the baking soda training mix and that is much less corrosive and only slightly less effective. I've put out floating oil fires of over 30 sqft with a single training extinguisher and had powder left over.

AFFF is pretty awesome though, and I have been using it for decades now and heartily recommend it for an extinguisher anywhere you don't have to worry about freezing.

I've never seen it premixed but I have been through training sessions were a dry chemical extinguisher was injected into the stream of AFFF coming out of a hose onto a fire. That is amazing at stopping a fire with both liquid fuel and lots of residual heat.

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
6/15/16 1:45 p.m.

I've only ever heard of the mixed foam and dry chem combos as a truck mount thing, never as a handheld (although I guess 2 people each holding an extinguisher could do it.

The baking soda agent is what I referred to as "standard BC dry chem" in an earlier post. It's what's in any BC (not ABC) dry chem that isn't Purple K.

While Purple K is still corrosive to electronics, most things indicate it's far less corrosive than ABC dry chem and that PKP is a bit more effective on fuel fires as well. FWIW, PKP is often used at airports while ABC dry chem almost never is due to corrosion concerns.

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