Fire extinguishers can be your best friend when a vehicle fire occurs, and everyone would agree that every vehicle should have at least one on standby for such worst-case scenarios. But did you know that an unsecured fire extinguisher could cause more harm than good in some specific scenarios? If not properly stowed, a fire extinguisher can unintentionally discharge, causing temporary disorientation, or even worse, become a projectile inside the cab of the vehicle. A good example of this is during the event of a rollover. We've witnessed situations like this firsthand and know just how dangerous they can be. For that reason, we're dedicating this month's safety column to preventing such a scenario.
A basic automotive fire extinguisher includes a flimsy plastic mounting system that does a marginal job at securing the potential kinetic energy that a fire extinguisher can develop when subjected to the external forces of a rollover. The larger the bottle, the more important it is to have a stout mounting method. H3R Performance is a company that specializes in all aspects of fire protection, and which has mounting solutions for nearly every imaginable application. Some of these solutions are ideal for those of us with dedicated trail rigs that have a higher probability of rolling. H3R has two popular mounting methods. Each is NHRA-approved, and in every scenario offers a significant margin of safety to consumers. The first of these includes a billet aluminum tube mount that allows for easy access on vehicles with a 1 5/8 - to 2 1/4 -inch rollbar. The second style also utilizes a billet bracket and enables owners to bolt a fire extinguisher to virtually any flat surface. Each style includes a simple quick-release pull-pin designed to simplify accessibility when needed. H3R even offers these mounting kits in your choice of a polished or brushed finish. These units are designed to properly secure a 1- or 2.5-pound fire extinguisher-the most common sizes you will find among dry chemical, automotive-type fire extinguishers.
The Facts About Vehicle Fires
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. public fire departments in 2004 responded to an estimated 266,500 highway-type vehicle fires. These fires claimed 520 lives and caused $969 million in direct property damage. NFPA estimates that one of every six (17%) reported fires involves a highway-type vehicle and 13% of all civilian fire deaths. On average, more than 30 highway vehicle fires are reported each hour. More than two-thirds of highway vehicle fires resulted from mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions. With these types of statistics looming, having a trusty fire extinguisher at the ready can mean the difference between life and death.