Basic Firefighting: Vehicle Firefighting

Attacking a fire involving a motor vehicle should be no different than attacking a fire in a structure. Basic hose handling and attack techniques are used. Session Reference: Topic: Basic Firefighting: Vehicle Firefighting Time...

Watch for downed wires - accidents

Access for additional apparatus (tankers)

Safety - regarding traffic patterns



IV. Water Supply (1-4)

Booster tank - adequate on most vehicle fires but should have a minimum of 500 gallons


Static source - may require more than one piece of apparatus

Tankers/other pumpers



V. Safety (1-5)

Account for all personnel

Protective clothing

Breathing apparatus

Correct approach

     • 45 degrees of vehicle

     • Stay away from front or rear bumpers

     • Separate fire from uninvolved areas and victims

     • Sweep fuel burning underneath vehicle

Area security - 100 foot perimeter around vehicle

Vehicle security - accidents

Spectators/firelines/police assistance



VI. Hoseline Placement (1-6)

Use 1-1/2" lines or greater

Rescue - protect occupants first

Overpower fire in passenger unit

Maintain escape route in case of change in wind direction or fire intensity

Protect exposures next

      • Other autos

      • Buildings

Cool fuel tanks

Attack fire (extinguishment)

Have hose line available for overhaul



VII. Exposure Protection Priorities (1-7)


Distance between fire and uninvolved areas

Value - items of higher value should be protected first when having to choose

Wind direction - may change direction smoke and flame travel

Construction - some exposures more easily ignited than others



VIII. Special Considerations (1-8)

Ambulances/first aid for injured (helicopters)

Cargo - private auto


     • Spray paint and closed containers

     • Gasoline

     • Ammunition

Cargo - commercial carriers

Bills of lading

     • Manifests

     • Driver may have in possession

Identify contents/Chemtrec 800-434-9300 - presence of hazardous materials may affect planning of apparatus and overall strategy and tactics

VW engines - magnesium metals



Practical Exercises (1-9)

NOTE: Instructor may want to demonstrate techniques prior to student practice.

Gaining access to vehicle

      • Doors

         • Locked or unlocked - conventional or electric locks

         • Cut sheet metal to expose lock

     • Windows

         • Front windshield - safety glass

         • Side and rear windows - tempered glass

          • Glass melting or exploding

     • Hood

         • Internal latch release

         • External release of latch

         • Forcing sheet metal

         • Secure hood from closing - springs may collapse when heated

     • Trunk

         • Key to gain access

         • Forcing sheet metal

         • Displacing lock assembly

      • Wheel wells

         • Locating existing openings

         • Making openings

       • Lights

         • Head lights

         • Front turn signals

         • Tail lights


Attacking Fires in Engine Compartment

     • Adequate water supply

     • Adequate staffing

     • Adequate attack line capability

     • Safe approach

     • Gain access to fire area

     • Proper attack techniques - stream and application


Attacking Fires in Passenger Compartment

     • Adequate water supply

     • Adequate staffing

     • Adequate attack line capability

     • Safe approach

     • Gain access to fire area

     • Proper attack techniques - stream and application


Maintaining Escape Route - Watch Hose Handling Making Attack and Backing Out






Basic Firefighting: Vehicle Firefighting

• Vehicle Construction

• Size Up

• Apparatus Placement

• Water Supply

• Safety

• Hoseline Placement

• Exposure Protection Priorities

• Special Considerations