Car fires may not appear to be very common, however, they do occur occasionally as we see from the shocking image on the right of a car catching fire at Burleigh Heads on the 6th of June this year.
If you are aware of the danger signs, immediate action can be taken to ensure the best outcome to avoid injury and even loss of life. Common warning signs include electrical problems, such as fuses that blow repeatedly, rapid changes in fuel or oil levels that may signify leaks, increases in engine temperature and loose or missing caps from the oil filler. These signs may not always be precursors to a fire, however, it is important not to ignore them and instead, get them checked out by a professional.
Note that the engine compartment is not the only place that fires can occur. If you do smell smoke or see flames coming from your car, it is vital to remain calm but act quickly. The first course of action is to pull over as quickly as it is safe to do so, turn off the ignition, and apply the handbrake. Get yourself and any passengers out of the car and move a safe distance away whilst calling 000 to alert emergency services.
To avoid the situation escalating out of control, it is a good idea to have a fire extinguisher and even a fire blanket in your vehicle within an accessible location at all times. Dry powder ABE extinguishers are the best choice as they are capable of extinguishing fuel and electrical fires as well as organic combustible materials found in vehicles, such as upholstery, cloth, etc. If you are confident doing so, consider using your fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
To use a fire extinguisher in the event of an emergency, the P.A.S.S. method should be followed.
- Pull the pin at the top of the fire extinguisher
- Aim at the base of the fire not the flames
- Squeeze the lever slowly
- Sweep from side to side to extinguish the fire
It is also important to know that you must not use the vehicle again until it has been cleared by a qualified mechanic or auto electrician.
If the fire is under the bonnet, you should release the bonnet catch only. It is recommended not to lift the bonnet as the influx of air could cause the fire to flare. You should only discharge the contents of the fire extinguisher through the bonnet gap.
Planning for emergencies such as fires, in advance, could save lives. It is better to be safe than sorry. Please contact Fire Safe ANZ for the fire safety for your vehicles.