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I carried a fire extinguisher in my car and hoped I didn't have to use it...until last night - Lotus / Motoring / Cars Chat - The Lotus Forums Jump to content
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I carried a fire extinguisher in my car and hoped I didn't have to use it...until last night

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I initially purchased the fire extinguisher in my car because a local car club's show scoring & rules encouraging participants

to carry a fire extinguisher in the cars. I thought it was a good idea, bought a few more small extinguishers

for each car in the garage and hoped I never had to use these devices.

On Saturday night, the wife and I were returning from a nice dinner in Algonac, MI when we came upon a car

pulling into the lot with orange sparks and a small glow from its under carriage.

There was a plume of smoke above the lighted intersection from which that car had turned off M29.

I thought that was too much smoke and orange light for a dragging tail pipe. So while I turned around

in the next parking lot, I asked my wife to take our fire extinguisher out of the glove box (the Lotus Esprit does

have a deep, big glove/map box).

In about the 45 seconds to turn around and get back to where the other vehicle was,

the other car owner had the hood open, there were 3 foot flames coming from under the carburettor,

all along the lower windscreen edge, and through the hood vents.

I initially thought the Kidde extinguisher (3lbs or 1.5kg 'ABC' type) was going to be useless, but surprisingly, it put

out all the fuel burning in the engine compartment. The small Kidde extinguisher, intended for kitchen

and small garage fires, had enough pressurized contents for about 10 seconds of use. I was impressed,

even though I aimed the extinguisher at the left front lower shock tower and cowl panel, little licks of flame

on the under side hood insulation and at the radiator hose connection to the radiator

were smothered by the fire extinguisher's contents.

Even if the Kidde had more to give, it couldn't help further because the fire (I think) had started to burn into the A/C and

interior heating ducts in the dash board. The interior was continuing to fill with thick smoke even though no flame was visible. A young fellow from a nearby party store showed up with a larger extinguisher and kept the engine compartment

fire that re-ignited about a 1minute later from growing again.

Sadly, even though I responded within 1 minute and the fellow with a larger extinguisher within

another minute...the Metalic green, 1969(maybe) Pontiac GTO had suffered major damage.

When I left the scene, the a fire truck crew decided their very large fire extinguisher wasn't going to be

effective and they were pulling out the heavy water hose to douse the interior, dash board and maybe the

engine compartment again.

As a result of this experience, I just purchased a medium sized fire extinguisher for my car, a Kidde 340

(15 lbs of fire suppressant?) to replace the spent extinguisher. Due to its size, it'll have to be stowed in the rear

boot or trunk. Just like the first extinguisher, I hope I don't have to use it.

For any older, sports or classic car owner who reads this, they should seriously consider inspecting their vehicle's entire

fuel line route for potential leaks or hose cracks annually, and carry not a small extinguisher, but a medium sized

extinguisher or few small ones at the very least. One little fire extinguisher isn't enough.

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front hatch i think would be a better place to store it, rear hatch might get just a little too hot if a fire were to break out. the heat shielding protects just fine against the heat from the exhuast but im not to sure how long it will survive against direct flames and burning fuel. i personnaly know just how hard it is to grab an object being cooked by burning fuel inside a car (thanks mark :) )

or am i just being a pessimist

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I'd wager you didn't get compensation for your expended fire extinguisher did you? The world is full of users, people who normally would not make it without help. Then there are those that help but get treated like that's expected behavior. Good for you.....but I've seen this more than once and even though I expect it, so far I haven't had to use any of my extinguishers on someone elses fire.

Edited by Rodewaryer

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I'll move it to front compartment...there is space there for it. I'll just have to secure it next to the spare tire.

===

As for the fellow with the burnt car...uh no...I was happy knowing I did what I could. If it wasn't for me and the young fellow

with the other extinguisher, the car would have been completely destroyed. Where we were at was semi-rural, and

the police & fire crew still took 5 minutes to arrive (actually fast for not being in a large city). A rural fire department house

was about 2 miles away. I think the fire crew was actually partly volunteer. Each truck large fire truck had just 1 crew member/driver.

I think the fire house had just a staff of 1 per truck and any extra crew was volunteer. The way they might work it,

is the driver goes to the site of the fire and volunteers drive themselves from where ever they are directly to the fire location.

The guy with the burnt car was in shock about what had happened to his car. 0 to near scrap metal in 3 minutes

before his eyes. Plus he was starting to get busy with the Police and Fire crew on how the fire started so they

could determine how best to suppress the remaining hidden fire. Fuel, Brake or clutch fluid may have dripped into

the passenger compartment through their respective plunger holes in the cowl and soaked the carpeting under the dash.

The small extinguisher was a $20 USD variety. My new replacement extinguisher was $49USD. As long as I or anyone wasn't

injured, the extinguisher cost is the least of my life's worries.

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If your really that worried get a plumbed in one. Trouble with an Esprit engine fire is, you can't get to it without opening the rear hatch too much.

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There are few cars that you can get to the engine without opening a hatch of some sort and the Esprit does have better access through the arches and lid vents than a lot of cars.

The small handheld ones are little use but they're much better than nothing!

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