Car Fire Extinguishers

Discussion in 'Vehicle & Transportation' started by HarpeR, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. HarpeR

    HarpeR Guest

    Do they have smaller fire extinguishers that people can keep in their cars? Do any of y'all have them? Do they come in a nice little case that can be installed in the car somewhere? I have a feeling if I had one, I wouldn't be able to find it under all my kid's junk in case of an emergency.
  2. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Well-Known Member

    Tarp strap it to the side of the trunk liner in the box so you can find it in a hurry.

    Small fire extinguishers come in sizes from 2 lbs., but they are virtually worthless.
    Start at about 5 lbs and go up from there.
    TWO 5 lbs. fire extinguishers are better than 1 10lbs fire extingusher!
    Redundancy means that chances are, at least on will work, and the 5 lb. bottles are MUCH easier to store than a 10 lb. unit.

    I drive old junk for the most part, so I wouldn't even CONSIDER LEAVING THE HOUSE without a fire extingusher!

  3. Big B

    Big B Well-Known Member

    Hammer is right about the two 5# extinguishers.
    Good tip, go to a small local airport and buy Halon extinguishers, they will just take the oxygen away from the fire and put it up. The normal 'white powder' kind make a major mess of your motor when used. You can't buy them in the auto supply houses, but they still sell them for aircraft.
    They also come with nifty mounting brackets and can be mounted on the floor or dash.
    Big B
  4. xj 98

    xj 98 New Member

    i carry one in my jeep... you never know when you might need one.. its a cheap to get and replace
  5. 10101

    10101 Guest

    Its always a good idea to have one around.

    Buy the biggest one you can that way you cant lose it :)
  6. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

    I have two in my Jeep always. Bought them cheap at Wal-Mart. To me esp. on a carburated vehicle it's a must to have one.
  7. BobS

    BobS Member


    You can go cheep...or you can get something useful that won't fail on you when you need it most. Many people think the Wal-Mart plastic valve 2.5lb extinguishers are enough.

    Until they lose a vehicle because it failed when needed most.

    Look for a minimum of 5 lbs ABC rated, metal valve assembly, and flexible hose at least 18 inches long, with a self supporting all position mounting bracket designed for vehicle use-NOT a house wall bracket.

    Mount it near the transmission tunnel in a SUV or pickup, as the military specified on the M1008/M1009 CUCV trucks.

    Cost is going to be in the neighborhood of $50.00-80.00 each for a GOOD, commercial quality unit.

    Keep it SERVICED- DO NOT LET THEM JUST RATTLE AROUND IN THE CAR and collect dust and dirt.

    I apologize in advance if my comments offend anyone, this is a sore spot with me from personal experience riding in a vehicle that caught fire offroad with someone that was an idiot.

    Best regards,

  8. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

    You'll find that even the 5lb extinguishers won't do much, but they are better than nothing, and do buy you some time. Skip on the tiny little 2.5lb ones... they're just big enough to throw some dust on the fire. A 5lb one will almost put out a small fire under the hood.

    (assuming you had the hood open when it started... ruptured fuel line on the exhaust igniting the engine bay... you running back into the garage to grab the extinguisher, spraying down the engine bay. Fire will go out because generally the fire melts the ignition components, cutting spark, which cuts the fuel pump.)

    That was a fun night.
  9. carnut1100

    carnut1100 Well-Known Member

    I WILL be outfitting my new car with an extinguisher ASAP.
    I am also going to fit one to my parents' car whether they like it or not.
    I have been in a car where the engine caught fire, not fun. Luckily it was only a minor fire and it was on a sandy track and there was a wool blanket and a shovel in the car. Blanket over the engine, then throwing sand on it stopped it in time.
  10. Big B

    Big B Well-Known Member

    No offense taken, it is good to be passionate about what you know works.
    You are right!!!
    True story, I was traveling on the freeway and saw a pick up with an engine fire in the oncoming lane, he was pulled off of the freeway.
    I turned around and was able to cross the freeway and help.
    When I got there, there were three men that had stopped already.
    All three had 5lb abc powder extinguishers.
    The real problem was that the fire was at the front of the hood and the hood popped, but no one could release the hood safety latch, because it was too hot by now.
    So I stood by and watched all three men empty the powder extinguishers, then I walked up and emptied my 5lb HALON by shooting it up under the hood through a hole in the wheel well. Remember, none of us could open the hood all of the way.
    THe Halon put it out immediatly.

    Again, the Halon is the way.
    Another thought, have you ever tried to clean up a motor after a powder extinguisher was used?? Terrible mess....
    HALON smothers the fire, install new plug wires and replace burnt wires, and start her up.
  11. carnut1100

    carnut1100 Well-Known Member

    Halon extinguishers are now illegal here in Australia under Ozone Depletion laws.
    The only exemption is for use aboard aircraft, you can get a $100,000 fine for using one elsewhere!!!
  12. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    I went through fire safety training when I fixed jets in the military. They cut a 55 gal barrel in half and filled it with charcoal. With flames roaring, they took a 10 lb fire extinguisher with halon and gave it a 1/2 second burst and the fire was out. Get halon if you can find it. (unless you live in Australia and can't afford $100,000)
  13. richard

    richard Guest

    One of the best ways to lessen if not prevent the damages, would be through the use of a car fire extinguisher. If you happen to own a car or drives one on a regular basis, it is best to have a firefighting device in place. Surprisingly, a motor vehicle is considered a fire-magnet, due to the presence of potential risks and dangerous elements. Prime examples of which would be oil and gasoline. In addition, a motor vehicle also consists of combustibles like car upholstery. The car's electrical wiring can also be a cause of car fires, due to possible short circuits. Another point of concern would be fuel leakages, as brought by faulty and defective fuel lines. The car's batteries can also be considered potential hazards, due to probable release of battery acid. And if you are thinking of electric and hybrid cars as fire-proof vehicles, think again. Hybrid and electric cars are also susceptible to risks because of their battery's components. The batteries which are mainly composed of lead-acid or Li-ion, are also susceptible to explosion and leakages.

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  14. mmszbi

    mmszbi Junior Member

    As a first responder, I say yes have at least a 5lb extinquisher for a LIFE THREATENING situation only.
    If the paint is bubbled, the car is a total already, you are not saving anything by trying to put the fire out and you are simply putting yourself at risk. Trust me, a car fire is not something you really want to risk your life and limbs for.
    There is nothing but TOXIC smoke, everything in a car that burns is TOXIC. Second, with the number of compressed air cylinders in the fenders, A pillars, front bumpers (yea I know what Mythbusters said, but I have seen the proof otherwise) you are asking for an injury on the side of the road which can get you killed or maimed for life.
    Just let it burn if you are roadside, keep yourself and others from injury. If it is parked in your driveway thats another matter as your home could be in jeopardy.
    When it comes to the use of an extinquisher, most folks have never used one and those that do make a critical mistake when they do.....they try to blast the fire into submission. Proper use of a halon, CO2, or chemical extinquisher is to stay back and smother(starve for air) the fire. You cannot do that by blasting it, you will simply spread the fire and defeat the whole process. All extinquishers except a water one work byremoving the air(O2) from the fire triangle(heat, air, fuel), killing the fire.
    I apologize if this is too wordy or basic, but a car fire can have long lasting effects to your health and is simply not worth the risk.
  15. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    That's some good info. I don't think I would keep halon for indoor use, but a vehicle is rarely in an enclosed space. I would use an ABC extinguisher in the garage. Outdoors, I'd risk halon exposure for the improved performance.
  16. sea_going_dude

    sea_going_dude Active Member

    I would like to add a couple of things, My F-150 caught fire due to faulty cruise stop switch on brake cylinder. burned completely up along with mosre of my house. It was totally in flame when I got to it so couldn't save anything. I will mention that almost the whole front end on my Ford (99) was fiberglass or plastic, the brake reservoir is PLASTIC and full of EITHER (brake fluid} so there's not much in your favor with a vehicle fire unless you are right there when it ignites. If it is more than just started It is probably a no win situation. But we love our trucks and will try if we have a chance.
    Fire extinguishers: Better to have several smaller ones but remember that some of the small ones do not have a gage on them and can't be refilled. So be sure to have ones that are refillable. Somebody mentioned about the big mess that those powder extinguishers make and that is true but easily cleaned up in engine compartment, another story inside or in your house. AND, once you use just a small bit of it to put a fire out and the gage still shows pressure, take it and have it refilled as it will leak down once the powder gets in the valve. good luck.
  17. sea_going_dude

    sea_going_dude Active Member

    While Halon is probably the best it is VERY EXPENSIVE so I would opt for CO2 which is also very good and cleaner than those powder mess makers. Just remember that most CO2 exts are larger and heavier so women or kids may not be able to operate them. Multiple 5pounder ABC's are a good choice.

    ALSO: if you don't have any exts and are where you have a water hose that water will put out a fire. Direct it at the base of the fire and the water will cool off the burning material and also if you hit the hot spots the water will turn to steam and (expand 1700 times) in volume and help push out the oxygen from the fire. We (the Navy) use water along with foam for all types of fuel / oil fires. So fight the fire with whatever you have. WARNING do not throw water on a grease fire on the stove. It sill blow the hot grease and fire all over the kitchen and you.
  18. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Hangin' n learnin'

    In another life (J/K), when I was a safety supervisor/technician, emergency response team member (HAZWoper level III & V, low/high angle & confined space rescue, basic emergency care) for over 8 years between 1992 and 2000, part of my duties included servicing hand-portable fire extinguishers, kitchen grease hood extinguishing systems, sprinkler systems, mobile fire brigade units, infrared fire detection, multiple types of gas detection in hand-portable and fixed systems, as well as a barrage of other industrial safety related equipment I will not mention here. Let me just say I know my safety gear in the private and industrial sectors. If you name a safety-related manufacturer, I can probably tell you most everything they sell, what it's for and how to use/maintain it.

    As part of a federal mandate (EPA) in 1998 (maybe earlier, can't remember that far back), Halon 1211 found in the high-dollar hand-portable extinguishers as well as Halon 1301 found in fixed systems for the protection of highly sensitive and expensive electronic equipment, were removed from active manufacture, due to their CFCs. It became illegal to manufacture any fire protection equipment containing either of the two, or the actual liquified gases (halon). It was not illegal to store bulk quantities of either Halon product after the mandate, or possess either the hand-portables or fixed systems, however, if they needed to be serviced, the price for any replacement halon was in, the cost went from around $4.00/lb to over $40.00/lb, basically overnight. Recovery of the halon just for servicing required expensive equipment as well, and therefore, the cost for routine maintenance of rechargeable fire extinguishers (required for insurance of businesses and OSHA/MSHA compliance at industrial sites) became even higher.

    The costs for anything related to halon after the federal mandate became extremely high for two main reasons:
    1) lack of supply replenishment;
    2) federal taxation of ALL halon in storage for the purpose of resale during serving of fire protection equipment...yes, you read correctly;

    Those who were brave enough to store large quantities were compelled to move that product as soon as possible, or face the additional storage taxes, so it wasn't held onto by any respectable service companies for very long. One of the industrial customers I was under contract with wanted all of their halon fire suppression gone by year-end, and replaced with CO2 systems, a few CO2 hand-portables and the remainder with dry chemical hand-portables. OK, said I...they didn't care about the cost, they just didn't want the liability, being a large operator and very environmentally conscious as they were. We were able to recover all of the halon, for later resale and destroyed the original fire extinguishers (liability), but it was a risky step with the known storage tax looming overhead...worked out OK, though.

    That said, I seriously doubt you will find any halon related fire equipment for sale, or be able to recharge or have the equipment serviced in any manner by a competent/qualified/licensed professional. And, yes, you are required by law to be licensed in all states except (last word I had) Colorado. Anyone who doesn't use their liscense number on the service tag is subject investigation by the statefire marshall, and possible fines/jail, revocation of license indefinitely...don't mess with the fire marshall's deputies, they are serious.

    CO2 hand-portable fire extinguishers are a bit spendy, very heavy due to the high pressure cylinder, and one should know that unless you get a larger unit, they will not be rated for class A fires (combustibles, only classes B and C (flammable liquids and electrical fires, respectively). The standard mono-amonium phosphate dry chemical fire extinguishers are all rated for class A:B:C, unless they are very small, say under 1lb. The home kitchen type (class B:C) have sodium bicarbonate (the cheapos, work fine btw), while the industrial B:C fire extinguishers (very spendy, btw) have a dry chemical we in the business call "Purple K", or PKP. This is originally developed by Ansul, (world-wide leader in industrial fire suppression) and was under trademark (probably still is) , and the given name is for exactly what it implies...the chemical has a purple/pink florescent tint. It's primary fire extinguishing action is by displacement of air with gases created by chemical reaction from heat. It is non-toxic when used for fire extinguishing purposes. For vehicle or kitchen use in the private sector, you don't need this is expensive because it has been developed to have a much higher fire suppression rating on class B:C fires than the standard multi-purpose A:B:C rated dry chemical.

    Any good vehicle fire extinguisher will have a USCG (coast guard) approval (some are only USCG approved for marine use if secured with the manufacturer's USCG approved mounting bracket, but may be used with a similar non-USCG bracket for vehicles), and should be UL listed as well.

    Fire suppression ratings for all hand portables are listed by the manufacturer on the label, and should be on the box as well (example: 1:A-10:B:C for small units in the 2.5lb range, 5:A-40B:C for large units in approx 10lb or larger range). The fire suppression ratings are designated for the purpose of determining how large of an incipient stage fire can be suppress by someone inexperienced with fire suppression. Incipient stage fires are small, have not yet begun to grow and spread rapidly, and have not yet begun to generate any significant heat. We're talkng about fires that have only been burning for 30-60 seconds or less, and preferably that you witnessed the ignition of said fire, so you know it's young and witnessed it's progression. These are the size of fire that a fire extinguisher is designed to suppress. Anything beyond these guidelines is time to call 911 (or in the case of post-SHTF, your community fire bucket-brigade). For each count of one in the rating, regardless of class, the fire extinguisher is rated to suppress 1 square foot of that type of material, by an inexperienced person. Those who are highly trained and experienced, they may be able to cover three to six times the size, but for clarification, most people who may use these are not trained or experienced, hence the reduction of suppression rating, so the general public will not be lulled into thinking they can take on a fully engulfed vehicle with a 20lb unit.

    Never use water-based fire extinguishing methods near an electrical source or equipment unless the source has been disconnected...OK, who has time to think about that? Only the fire department. Remember, class C...water and electricity??? Therefore, it is considered an improper installation if these two are found in proximity, so you may never find water-based extinguishers in a business or industrial location. They may have all but become obsolete by now, but if you find one in a store or garage sale, etc, just pass it by...they're pretty much useless now days.

    Class A (combustible materials, such as paper, wood, plastics) is one of the more difficult fires to suppress due to the nature of the material. Once it goes up in flames, it collects heat. This heat can re-ignite after initial suppression if improper methods were used. Mono-amonium phoshate or multi-purpose dry chemical is best for hand-portable extinguishers. When delivered onto a fire, this chemical melts and forms a crust over the hot areas it contacts, forming a barrier between the hot material and air, removing air (oxygen) from the fire-triangle. Chances for re-ignition of the hot material once it is extinguished with this chemical is greatly reduced.

    Now, for vehicle fires, consider this: you have a potential for all 3 of the common fire classes to be involved in a fire, so don't hesitate in spending a couple extra dollars for a multi-purpose fire extinguisher over a Class B:C only...not worth it, in my opinion.

    CO2? sure, a larger unit is rated for class A fires, but cannot coat the material the way mono-amonium phosphate can. Will it leave a residue of highly irritating dust behind? No. Can it still pose a threat to human life while in use? YES!!! CO2 is the promary drive for your respiratory function. Higher levels of CO2 in your blood cause more rapid and deeper breathing, automatically. CO2 being discharged into smaller, or unventilated spaces puts you at risk when CO2 levels reach more than 5,000 ppm...normal air contains 300-400 ppm. I used to do training for CO2 safety along with H2S, both in the oil and gas industries, but that's been over 10 years ago. CO2 is a clean fire suppressant, yes, however is not that great at what it's intended for in a fire extinguisher, and, it can be deadly to the user.

    Me? Don't have or want CO2...have plenty of dry chemical of various types and sizes for home and vehicle, and one lowly 20lb halon 1211 that mistakenly didn't get destroyed back in 1998, or whenever that was...they didn't want it around if they got audited by corporate, so I came to the rescue...;)...:D

    Oh, in case I forgot to mention, halon is every bit as dangerous to the user of the fire extinguisher as CO2. Either will displace the air from the environment it is used in...that's how they kill a fire, be removing the O2 the fire needs to continue burning...which, by the way, you need to breathe...make sense?

    Class D fires are combustible metals such as magnesium, etc. The fire extinguishers rated fior class D are listed for specific metals only, and must not be used for metals other than what they are listed for. Class A:B:C rated fire extinguishers for class D fires will only accomplish one thing: severely burn or kill the person attempting to put these fires out...that's it.

    OK, getting late here, and my search and peck keyboard work is slow, so eye-lid inspections are over-due for me...ha! Anyway, that's all I can tell you in this installment. If you want/need to know more, ring in.

    Last thing when it comes to fire extinguishing: if it doesn't look good, it probably isn't...been there, 1987, with another worker's tanker truck fire and a 20lb hand-portable 10:A-40:B:C and 8,400 gallons of highly flammable liquified petroleum gas (not propane, heavier stuff). This is an extreme example, but you get the picture. We were all able to walk away after the fire dept arrived, and no one was seriously injured (I wasn't burned at all), including the public, thankfully. Property damage was severe, though. Ever see a fire-ball 300 feet wide and 600 feet high from only 300 feet away? Damn HOT!!! If it's a big fire and you're standing there holding a hand-portable fire extinguisher, it's way past time to just me.