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Fire suppression options for a road car

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After seeing somebody I follow on instagram have their '02 come all too close to being destroyed by fire (thankfully it was a race car so they a had fire suppression installed!) I've begun to think hard about doing something for my vehicle. What caused the blaze in his car had nothing to do with it being a race car, and I think fire suppression is something to consider with any older vehicle. I've consistently carried an extinguished but more-and-more I want something that I can operate from inside the cockpit or will operate automatically, as I really don't like the idea of opening the hood during a fire. Any thoughts on something relatively affordable and easy to install? 

 

This is would be very simple: https://www.amazon.com/TENYU-Electric-Circuit-Automatic-Extinguisher/dp/B077LVMGJ4?th=1 but seems to good to be true and I would be worried about something like normal engine heat tripping it. 

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You would want to know what damage will be done from the extiguishant, many cheaper solutions are corrosive. Probably the least expensive “race level” are $250-ish like Lifeline or the Firecharger, but not certified by FIA. Then you get into the real FIA systems for $400-ish and up. Some of these can’t be stored outside during winter, have to be re-certified regularly, non-trivial installation, etc. You may want to just get a really good halon-replacement 2.5-lb or 5-lb. extinguisher, be sure the chemicals don’t destroy electricals, etc.

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I keep this tucked under the driver's seat. Halon will not damage stuff....so I am told.

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57 minutes ago, John76 said:

I keep this tucked under the driver's seat. Halon will not damage stuff....so I am told.

 

It can harm your lungs & have mild central nervous system effects, but your car will be happier than if covered in powder.

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Wow is Halon systems available to you? They are on big NO NO list here - strictly illegal.

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9 hours ago, fjord-tii said:

You would want to know what damage will be done from the extiguishant, many cheaper solutions are corrosive.

All allowed here are corrosive and yes it is pita to clean up engine bay - done it once. Didn't like it but was better than alternative.

10 hours ago, Sahara said:

something that I can operate from inside the cockpit or will operate automatically, as I really don't like the idea of opening the hood during a fire.

Install in cockpit and remodel hose part to metal tube that goes engine bay. Operate from inside.

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There's this stuff, which I've thought about getting.

http://blazecut.com/small-enclosures/description/

It's a suppressive chemical in a high pressure plastic tube. When the pressure or temp gets too high, the tube ruptures and extinguishes the fire. 

 

I guess it's a popular solution for the VW bus crowd, I learned it from a mechanic here in Germany that puts it in all his VW's. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kswau1mGBE8

 

 

 

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(edited)

Side note.... 

 

How often do you guys replace your fuel lines in the engine bay?

 

I had put all new lines in when I built the motor not even 2 years ago... and noticed some dry-rot/cracking to all of them when I pulled her out after winter a few weeks ago. The line going from the firewall to the pressure regulator behind the motor, and the appx 10" section between between my DCOE's... Trunk was OK, so I'm guessing it's down to engine bay heat...

 

So outa' curiosity I started push-pulling on a few of them with the regulator at 2psi, (NOT RUNNING, of course) and quickly got sprayed from a dry-rot crack in the hose between the carbs when flexed....

 

Needless to say, that guy got replaced IMMEDIATELY.  But with a section I had leftover from the motor build. It was still flexible... but I'll be ordering something different to replace the rest ASAP before I do any longer drives. 

 

I've had the same issues over the years with several other lines bought from local parts stores, and even reputable online retailers... Not sure if it's just old-stock, or what... Very disconcerting.

 

At first i tried to be 'original' and use the fabric covered stuff, but every version I've found is absolute garbage and either split from the get-go, or dry-rotted in basically a season. Again... purchased from 'reputable' sources. 

 

Makes me think that solid PTFE lines might be a good call.

 

None of this 'lined' rubber hose crap that obviously doesn't stand up to modern fuel these days. 

Edited by 2002Scoob

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There have been some recent threads on this topic. After reading those, including some comments from professional firefighters, I am in the camp of not carrying one.  Statistically, I’m not sure your 2002 is more likely to suffer a fire then your daily driver, and probably less so, given the minimal electronics.  As pointed out by Scoob, a ruptured fuel  line is likely the biggest risk, I’m not sure you can fight that with a fire extinguisher. I am curious if it has ever happened to anyone here with a street car, and if it has, if they successfully use a fire extinguisher to save the day.  If you find yourself in that unfortunate position, you would first have to safely pull the car over, get yourself and maybe a passenger out, get your cell phone (because you know you will go for your cell phone) and then get the fire extinguisher.  Then, in a somewhat panicky state, you would be standing in front of the hood, trying to decide whether to give it a spritz with your fire extinguisher.  At that point, you run the risk of a texting yahoo in a pick up truck sending your 2002, you and your fire extinguisher into next Tuesday. If you don’t carry one, you’re not tempted to stand around a burning car making bad decisions. Instead, it might make sense to get over the guard rail, call 911, leave the fire to the pros, and then Hagerty‘s and point out that recent car on BAT that went for 100K, which wasn’t as nice as your car!

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Bluehills2002 comments are spot-on and remind me of my asking firefighters at two different Cincinnati Fire Department stations (1) should I have a fire extinguisher [FE] in my old cars and (2) if so, what kind of FE?

 

Their answers and recommendations were not what I expected and seem to agree with the aforementioned FEMA article.

1.  Carry a fire extinguisher (any kind) for only one purpose:  (a quote) "...to throw at anyone (other than a fire fighter) who tries to get close to the car."

2.  Stand way back, call 911, and let the car burn.  Their experience says virtually all car fires of any extent are total loses.

3.  Use of a FE by an amateur on an engine fire is extremely dangerous.  Raising a hood allows the fire more access to oxygen.  Fires, fluids, and engine parts unexpectedly pop, explode, spray, and spread.    

4.  If you insist on carrying a FE, use it ONLY if a passenger's life is in danger.

 

Under my driver's seat, I have a FE I installed before I met with the fire department.  It contains an approved non-damaging halon substitute.  However, I am almost certain I'd let the car burn.

 

If fire suppression systems are good for race cars, they're THE way to go for road cars.  I wish I had one.

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Soooo. The answer to the question is- Good full coverage insurance and recent value assessment? :)

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Anyone tried the Element? I like the idea of an extinguisher in the car despite the recommendation to abandon. Not sure how effective this is but sounds great. 

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regular inspection and replacement of the fuel hoses are the safest form of prevention. what else is going to cause your car to go up in flames? don't know if you're getting ethanol added to your fuel in the states, but we are in europe and that helps to finish off old hoses (apparently). so make sure replacements are ethanol compatible if appropriate.

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8 hours ago, 2002Scoob said:

There's this stuff, which I've thought about getting.

http://blazecut.com/small-enclosures/description/

It's a suppressive chemical in a high pressure plastic tube. When the pressure or temp gets too high, the tube ruptures and extinguishes the fire. 

 

I guess it's a popular solution for the VW bus crowd, I learned it from a mechanic here in Germany that puts it in all his VW's. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kswau1mGBE8

 

 

 

I really like the look of that blazecut system. 

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Halon is no longer available here.  But I have stockpiled 20-25 of them and they are strategically scattered around my garage and there is a hand held one in each car.   My recommendation for your garage are a couple of big CO2 extinguishers,  they are very effective even on electrical and fuel fires and leave no residue.  They are not cheep but well worth it.   

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