Fire Protection - A General Discussion
Fire is always a threat looming in the background. It can erupt from something as simple as starting an older carbureted car, to more insidious things such as a ruptured high pressure fuel line on a newer car or an electrical short deep with in your cars electrical system. Whatever the cause, fire can be very damaging to your car, or worse, life threatening to you.
A fire extinguisher, whether in your car, your garage, boat or plane can be very cheap insurance against the threat of fire. It is highly recommended that you have one handy at all times.
Types of Extinguishers
Extinguishers generally fall into two categories. They are; Dry chemical extinguishers which are inexpensive and can be found at many retail outlets, or clean gas extinguishers which use Halon or other new gaseous agents.
Dry Chemical or Dry Powder extinguishers have been around for some time. Although perhaps better than nothing at all they are some of the worst types of extinguishers in use today. In some cases, they actually enable the fire instead of extinguishing it! In addition, they are extremely harmful and corrosive to what ever they are applied to, and can be very hazardous to ones respiratory system.
Halon, either 1211 or 1301 is a very effective extinguishant. Halon, a heavier than air gas, when applied correctly to a fire, goes to the base of the flame and starves the fire of oxygen. In the process of extinguishing the flame Halon is turned into an inert non-polluting substance. Stories of Halon being dangerous to ones health are unfounded. A person would have to be exposed to large quantities of Halon in very confined spaces to be affected. However, NEVER spray any extinguishing agent directly in a persons face, eyes, or nose. It is interesting to note that Halon 1211, is still the only approved extinguishing agent for use in commercial aircraft cabins and cockpits. Although production of Halon was stopped in the early 1990’s there is still a plentiful supply on hand for use in Motorsports, Aviation, and Marine applications. Also, FE36 and Novec1230 are EPA approved replacements for Halon 1211 or 1301.
Misconceptions About Fire Extinguishers
There is no fire extinguisher or fire system that will guarantee the complete extinguishing of a fire. The variables are too numerous. A fire extinguisher or fire system should be considered a device that enables you, the non-replaceable human, time to get away from the fire. Hopefully you will be able to completely extinguish a fire should you be faced with one, but never stay around trying to extinguish something you can’t! If you can at least limit the damage caused by the fire then you are a winner!
Types Of Systems
Fire extinguishing is available by either hand held extinguishers or plumbed-in systems. For street car purposes most users prefer hand held extinguishers for ease of handling and storage. In more sophisticated high performance street cars and competition cars plumbed-in systems are preferred. Plumbed-in systems offer larger quantities of agent and are operable from either inside or outside the vehicle, offering an extra margin of safety. There are also easily installed, automatic thermally discharged systems, available for garages and trailers as well as competition cars.
Hopefully this information has helped answer any questions you might have had regarding fire fighting agents, fire extinguishers or fire systems. If more detailed information is required please do not hesitate to contact us. Happy and safe motoring!