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" FIRE !!! "

There are few emergencies more frightening than a car fire.

We probably all have within us, as one of our worst nightmares, a fear of being trapped in a burning vehicle.

Fire is always unpredictable and car fires are no exception, breaking out at any time, rarely with any warning and with sufficient highly inflammable fuel on board to completely engulf the vehicle in a very short time.

Car fires are on the increase over the last few years and there are suggestions that this may be due to the increase in fuel injected engines where fuel is delivered at a high pressure.

There is one golden rule to reducing the risk of fire;

Only carry spare fuel in a suitable container - preferably one of the non-explosive types available in most car spares shops - and never more than a small amount, 2.5 litres - a half gallon - will take most cars for 15-20 miles, perfectly adequate to get you to the nearest petrol station.

Every driver should carry a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible position, the most popular being tucked under the driver's seat.

Small, aerosol type, extinguishers are of little use and a capacity of at least 1 kilo is desirable.

If a fire should occur:

  • Switch off the ignition to stop the fuel flow
  • Evacuate the car immediately, taking the extinguisher with you, and, from a safe distance, assess the chances of fighting the fire
  • Always ensure the Fire Brigade is called, even if the fire seems minor, it could spread rapidly
  • Keep other people well away from the fire, and impose a "No Smoking" ban
  • If you attempt to fight the fire, hold the extinguisher at arms length and direct it at the base of the fire until all of the extinguishant is used up.
  • Never attempt to smother a fuel fire, this could result in serious burns to the hands.

We all hope that such a situation will never occur but, if it does, following a few simple rules could save life.

Remember, the car is more easily replaced than the driver or passengers.     

Article © Graham Benge 2007

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