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  1. #1
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    Default Strange sparks at a car fire??????

    During a routine car fire last night, I noticed something and have no clue what it was. Something in the area of the airbags reacted like a 4th of July sparkler when hit with water.

    The car was pretty much gone when we got on scene........and when the stream passed by both the driver and passenger air bag area.......BIG BRIGHT SPARKS!!!

    Can anyone tell me what I was seeing?

    Smile....it ain't all that bad!!!!!!!


  2. #2
    Forum Member SFD13's Avatar
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    Can you be more specific? Make and model of car and the year.
    "My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea." - Tommy Douglas 1961.

    Tender 9 - old, slow, ugly, cantankerous, reliable!

    All empires fall, you just have to know where to push

  3. #3
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    Many new vehicles have parts containing magnisium. I'm not sure if this is accurate or not, but I have heard that water will not extinguish a magnisium fire. I do know that some flares are made from magnisium and this may have caused the sparking you described.

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    Had to be something made of megnesium. I guess we don't tell recruits what it was like to see a fire in a VW with a nagnesium engine block years ago. They are still on the road; I drive one, and I also put out a few...........

  5. #5
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    The car was toast when we got there but I did here an police officer say it was a new Chrysler.
    Smile....it ain't all that bad!!!!!!!

  6. #6
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    You can bet it was magnesium (or maybe titanium or some other exotic metal that burns). We deal with magnesium fire frequently at the local foundry and occasionally get the chance to train with some to show new members the result when you apply water to it. What I am told is happening when you do this is that the fire burns so hot that it breaks down the water into hydrogen and oxygen. When the hydrogen burns in the oxygen rich atmosphere, you get BIG sparking action.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

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  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Halligan84's Avatar
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    I've also seen the same thing in the steering column of at least one chrysler product. Sure looks like magnesium to me. Plenty of water, it goes out.

  8. #8
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    Put my vote for Magnesium. Put out a few myself, also.
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  9. #9
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    Another vote for magnesium...and I have had a few of these fires (including a 1973 VW beetle...now that was fun!)
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  10. #10
    IACOJ Agitator Adze39's Avatar
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    Sounds like Magnesium
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  11. #11
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    What the hell are you guys talking about it's magnesium. As the above statements say it's mag. be careful water can intensifie this type of fire. A couple towns over they had a vw burning in a carport the port wasn't invovled when they started but sure was when they were done.
    the truth never hides for long

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber Halligan84's Avatar
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    The amount in the steering column is obviously very small. A decent flow from an 1 3/4 and its all gone in a few minutes. As far as V dubs.. Need water there too. Stuff like Metl X is great if you have a pile of shavings, but how do you layer it on a vertical surface of a vw engine block? The most stubborn one I ever saw required taking a hydrant, jacking the car and removing a rear wheel to get access and flood it until it stopped.

  13. #13
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    It is Magnesium, also there is a support that runs across the length of the dash in certain vehicles that is Magnesium also.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DFDRev's Avatar
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    I used to work as a security/fire officer for one of the "Big 3". Magnesium is being used more often in cars now because it is a light metal. With the push for cars to be more fuel efficient the auto companies are trying to lighten the load.

    Mag. is a popular metal of choice for the right-hand-drive retro kits to make the cars conform to European standards.

    Because magnesium was being used in our plant, we had to train putting it out. The only thing that does the job quickly is a Class D extinguisher.
    www.cafepress.com/firerev

  15. #15
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    Saw the same thing in an "accident with fire" last year. I was behind the nozzleman, and when he hit the area of the steering column...whooeee, 4th of July.

    It's definitely magnesium.
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  16. #16
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    If the spark/s where bright white and it acted like a fireworks display it was most likely magnesium.
    You need to be carefull when applying water to it. We where out on a barn fire about a year and a half ago that had concrete tools stored in it. The barn was on the ground before we where notifed of the fire. Lukely it was cold out and I put on all my gear. The only skin I had showing was around my face where my hood didn't cover. My face sheld was down. I was working the outer edge putting out hot spots. Next thing I knew I was engulfed in a fire ball. I didn't see the concrete tools because the barn tin was laying over it. There was a small opening in the tin where the water hit the concrete tool. It was a 4' bull float to find out later. I had just enough time to turn my head to one side. I still suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns to the right side of my face. My gear had to be sent in for some repairs. Bascily we where in the overhaul stage. Who would think that there would be that many concrete tools in a shed 4 miles south of town in the country. I believe he had over $8000.00 whorth of tools in there. He worked for the largest concrete company in the area. if I would have been wearing my SCBA mask I wouldn't have been burnt. But like I said we where in the overhaul stage. Stay Safe.

  17. #17
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    your answer is Magnesium....in older vehicles such as the VW "bug", and there are some new model trucks that have Magnesium in the steering columns. Youll definetly know ther is mag. because youll get those Fourth of July fireworks...Extinguish with a LOT of water or i have seen a dry chemical put it completely out(if you know what your doing with the extinguisher!
    stay safe brothers
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  18. #18
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    Just to clarify Fire Eater 07's post about dry chem extinguishers and magnesium fires...it's not dry chem..it's a Class D extinguisher with met-l-x dry powder that's formulated for extinguishing flammable metal fires. A dry powder extinguisher is painted yellow to differentiate it and will have a star symbol with the letter D in the middle to signify a class D extinguisher. A normal ABC dry chem won't extinguish a magnesium fire.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  19. #19
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    VW magnesium fires?Yer dating yerself Gonzo!Hehehe T.C,

  20. #20
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    Watch under the hood on several cars...you will find mag. It is used on air cleaner covers on some GM cars. In the steering column of Crysler, GM has used it on Body panels and trim. Watch the sparks....they will burn right through bunker gear...and the skin under it.

    good Luck
    Firehose

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