A new season means an updated fire-suppression system

Update by Tom Suddard to the Mazda Miata project car
Sep 21, 2022 | Mazda, Miata, Mazda Miata, lfx, Endurance Race Miata, SPA Technique, Fire-Supression

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Almost every amateur racing organization requires a fire system these days. But there’s a broad spectrum of legal setups, from the bare minimum to above and beyond, and we’ve written at length in the past about our desire to always have the best fire protection available.

[How to install a fire system from scratch]

So even though our Miata has had a nice fire system from SPA Technique for years, every system needs periodic service and recertification. We took this required service interval as an excuse to upgrade.

SPA Technique sent us their updated SPA Extreme SFI10 kit, a 10 lb. Novec 1230 system that’s slightly lighter than the 10 lb. Novec system we replaced.

Our old fire suppression system, at left, next to the new one, at right.

The biggest difference, though? This kit was topped with a major upgrade that bumps the price up to $1279.

What’s the upgrade? A three-way head, meaning there are three ways to activate this new fire system: a temperature-sensitive automatic bulb, a pull cable, and an electrical circuit. This is a $493 option, but we think it could be a big help in an endurance race car like this.

Previously, the system could only be activated by a single pull. We had it mounted near the passenger door jamb.

This spot, though blind for the driver, theoretically allowed both driver and emergency responders to reach the handle and activate the system.

This passed tech but it was far from ideal: Especially with multiple drivers, we were trusting that they’d remember the location and direction of travel of the handle, and we were trusting they’d still have the motor skills for a fairly awkward operation akin to a lateral raise in the gym.

After our low-buck interior refresh, we knew we needed to improve the safety of the car.

Now, we still have that mechanical pull handle on the passenger side of the car, where a first responder can activate the system. But we also have an electronic activation right in front of the shifter, putting it clearly in the driver’s line of sight and requiring the bare minimum of motor skills to activate.

We’re big fans of electronic activation for this reason: Even with a broken arm, odds are good the driver will be able to tap the button.

And if both of those methods fail, the system will activate automatically when the bottle hits 175 degrees.

With a safer activation method and a current fire certification, our Miata was finally ready to race.

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