Fire Extinguisher

6/3/01

Update 5/29/07 | 8/26/07

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I have been the victim of an few fires.    The worst were before I started keeping an extinguisher in my vehicle.

The first time was with my CJ-2A.  The wiring under the dash had lost some insulation and shorted out against the cowl.  The wires got red hot and burned the remaining insulation.  I grabbed the hot wires and broke them before a full blown blaze could start.  I got wire-sized 3rd-degree burns on my hands for my troubles, but prevented the Jeep from burning down.

Fire Extinguisher Mounting
 

But I didn't learn my lesson.   Another time, I retrieved my Volvo 1800ES from a front-end alignment shop.   The mechanic had pulled the clutch cable to one side to allow adjustment of the suspension.  When the work was completed, he did not restore the cable to it's original location.  When I drove the car away, the clutch cable casing ground up against the starter leads and after a couple minutes ignited.  Once again I had a fire.  This time, the fire was being maintained by the red-hot cable that was electrically charged.  I did not have a fire extinguisher.  So I disconnected the battery, burning my fingers badly in the process.  I put out the fire with sand that was built up on the side of the road. 

I was able to save the car and prevent major damage but I got pretty badly burned in the process, and was lucky that they use sand on the roads in New England.  The shop tried to claim that they were not responsible but I brought them the car and after a few well placed questions, was able to get them to take responsibility for the damage, which included the starter motor and other parts.   Finally, I learned my lesson and got fire extinguishers for all my vehicles.

Another time, it was a S.U. Carburetor that caught fire in my Volvo 122S in my driveway.  Before I realized the problem and put it out with the fire extinguisher, the paint on my hood was ruined.  But at least I was able to prevent more serious damage.   I was dressed in a tuxedo trying to go to a Christmas Party.  As aggravating as the whole thing was, we barely missed a beat.  I washed my hands and we took another car to the party. First Alert Recreational Fire Extinguisher FE5G
Most of the organized clubs and expedition guides require that your vehicle be equipped with a Fire Extinguisher.   Even without this requirement, it is a good idea to have one on board.   Automobiles can be burned to the ground very quickly and there are very few methods of extinguishing the fire once it starts if you do not act fast and have the proper gear.   Even then, these fires are very dangerous because they are usually caused by electrical faults or by fuel that has ignited.  I have seen cars burned beyond recognition in less than a couple minutes.
When  fire starts, you want the extinguisher to be very handy.  There is no time to read the directions so be sure you understand how the unit works and do not hesitate to use it if a fire starts.   If the extinguisher goes dry and you do not have another, be sure to think first of your own safety.  I made several mistakes and have the scars to prove it.  The car is not worth losing your life over.

Check your extinguisher frequently to be sure that it still has a good charge.  Get it recharged if possible, when needed.  If yours is the disposable type and is no longer fully charged, throw it away and get another.

Fire Extinguisher Mounting

Update 5/29/07

A check of the gauge on the fire extinguisher showed that it was "dead" so I replaced it with a new one.  Where the one I had was rated for "B" and "C" type fires (electrical and grease), the new one is rated for "A", "B", and "C" which includes paper and wood and other like materials.  The thinking is that the triple-rating gives me better protection against all types of fires.

Update 8/26/07

I ordered and installed a neoprene extinguisher holder.

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