Thread: Car fires

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    Default Car fires

    I am trying to prepare a presentation on car fires for my department.Does anyone have any thoughts,Pictures, or ideas that might help. If nothing else I would like to hear a little on how you respond to car fires.

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    We send an engine and a ladder company to car, bus, and truck fires.
    In addition to forcing hood, trunk, and ripping through burning seats ladder companys rig is positioned to block traffic and protect engine company members from oncomming traffic. There have been many times nationwide where FF's working have been hit or very nearly hit by idiots driving by.
    I think this was discussed elsewhere. Try hitting the search on this.

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    _________________
    Last edited by 5alarmcooker; 03-17-2008 at 08:50 PM.

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    Default Hazards

    I am trying to focus a little bit on the hazards of fighting car fires. Any help is much appreciated. What to look for and what not to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grasstrimmer View Post
    I am trying to focus a little bit on the hazards of fighting car fires. Any help is much appreciated. What to look for and what not to do.
    Grasstrimmer take a look at this power point it may help you.http://www.airbagsystems.org/id1.html
    http://www.midsouthrescue.org
    Is it time to change our training yet ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by grasstrimmer View Post
    I am trying to focus a little bit on the hazards of fighting car fires. Any help is much appreciated. What to look for and what not to do.
    Off the top of my head...

    Cars have so much plastic in them now, that getting in the smoke without a SCBA can be bad juju. The bumpers can explode and launch from the vehicle. Some cars have magnesium wheels or parts, which can take a long time to cool enough to put them out. Also, there could be NOS systems attached on some vehicles. Some vehicles are a mobile meth lab so many hazards there, also in general, you don't know what is being hauled around. There is also the vehicles fluids that can catch fire and cause problems if leaking.

    Basically a vehicle fire could seem like a very basic fire, and most times are, but doesn't mean you don't have to watch yourself either. Attack with the wind at your back, (if you can) wear a SCBA. (You may not have to be on air, but you have it on so that in case you do have to go on air). Position the apparatus to block traffic, and hopefully PD does also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grasstrimmer View Post
    I am trying to focus a little bit on the hazards of fighting car fires. Any help is much appreciated. What to look for and what not to do.


    Hazard(s)...Action(s)



    *Occupants...These are obviously the first priority. Protect and extricate.

    *Toxic smoke and gasses...Wear SCBA during all suppression and overhaul operations.

    *Gas filled struts in bumpers, hoods and hatches that can violently explode when exposed to fire...Do not allow suppression personnel to position themselves directly in line with these mechanisms.

    *Incidental airbag deployment...Do not allow personnel to place themselves in a position where they could be struck should any one of the airbags deploy.

    *Unknown hazardous cargo being transported within the vehicle..Wear SCBA during all suppression and overhaul operations. Search all compartments to check for fire extension and possible hazards.

    *Combustable metals (magnesium) that when burning will react violently when water is applied...Be aware of locations of such metals (steering columns, engine blocks, etc.) and conduct suppression activities accordingly.

    *Free flowing fuel spills...Be alert to the possibility of flammable liquid spills/leaks that could present both safety hazards to personnel and possible exposure hazards.

    *High voltage energized electrical circuits in hybrid vehicles...Know both the location and the proper techniques for securing these electrical systems

    *Large battery banks in hybrid vehicles...Be aware of the potential effects of fire and how to secure and extinguish them safely.

    *Possible movement/rolling of a vehicle...Be aware of unexpected movement of any vehicle that is involved in fire...Chock/stabilize to prevent movement.

    *Possible crime scene...Preserve as much potential evidence as possible when extinguishing/overhauling. It isn't unusual for a stolen vehicle to be burned by the thieves in an attempt to destroy evidence. Arson for insurance is another possibility. Arson to cover another criminal activity, even murder, is also possible.


    That sould be a start. I'm sure others will have lots more to add.
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    Other than what was posted above I always try to place an Eng or Ladder between the traffic and me. It is nerve racking enough fighting a car fire without idiots screaming to work and hitting you or another brother/sister so I would put placement of apparatus in you power point. Check with your sop/sog because where I come from if there is fire the scene is ours I WILL shut the road down if there is a hazard to me or my guys. PD thinks other wise you will have to work with them and try to open the road as soon as it is safe to do so. But our safety is paramount and explain that to the officers also because I am sure that they like going home to their families at the end of thier shift also. If you make the cops think that you are doing for them they will play right into it.

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    My vol. company runs an attack engine, tanker, and a rescue. (in that order) Engine pulls up and parks on an angle far enough away from the fire so the operator can see and communicate with the ff's. Tanker hooks up with a 2 1/2 " supply and the rescue shuts down the lane or highway if needed. Make sure you come in on an angle. NEVER approach car fires from the front or rear if possible. If the engine and trunk struts blow, they will go through steel! Also, especially on manuals stay clear of the front of the car. If the melting/burning wires touch and complete a circut, it could give power to the starter and lurch the car forwards or backwards. (That is scary when it happens. We had that happen at a drill) and don't be afraid to shut down the highway and remember during a car fire, the FIRE DEPARTMENT has overall say. If you want to shut down the highway and state PD doesn't....you shut down the highway and the PD can't do anything but moan and complain.

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    most of what has been posted covers this topic, but i'll throw my $.02 in there....

    aight, car fires can end you career or kill you just the same as a structure fire. as ar as my department, we respond one engine (because thats all we really need for car fires, but your department may have some other protocol) and use a jumpline/pre-connect. hit the fire from a distance (usually if its fully involved) with a straight stream and then start moving towards the car at a diagonal angle to car. NEVER APPORACH A BURNING CAR FROM THE FRONT/REAR. as you walk closer, open your pattern just a bit to an attack cone (thats what we call it) and start hitting the inside of the car better. cool the inside of the car including the steering column and dash board. if there is fire under the hood, we will usually take a hooligan tool, jam the flat end or spiked end into the side of the hood and lift the hood just enough to stick the nozzle into the hood and apply a short blast of water to steam the engine. one the fire is out in the engine, we will do what we have to do to open the hood (which is whole different class, depending on weather or not you hood latch handle hasent melted away or you can't pull the hood cable with a pair of pliers). you can do things such as lifting one side of the hood and taking a hooked shaped object such as a pike pole and attempting to snag the hood latch cable. or if all else fails, take a k12 and cut out the hood surrounding the hood latch and cut the latch with bolt cutters. but this takes time and is a "last resort" for us.

    watch for hazards such as gas struts that can explode, bumpers that can explode (never seen that, but the training video we have says it happens), exploding tires, magnesium engine parts that can flash when water is applied to it, gas tanks melting and spilling burning gas, items such as aerosol cans and other tanks or objects that can explode.

    one other little thing, for the protection of firefighters from gas spilling while they are close to the car, we always have someone standing by with a fire extinguisher just incase the gas tank decided to let all of its burning fuel spill around the firefighters.

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    What everyone else said plus:gas caps are plastic to allow them to melt and blow off built up pressure to reduce the chance of a BLEVE.
    Let the thing melt.I've never seen a burning car blow up in the three I've responded to.I'd rather not take the chance.
    Since most people in a car that starts to burn tend to pull into a gas station to deal with it,make sure to get the customers out of the area,have the cashier turn off the gas pumps and leave as well,and hope that the customer didn't have a pump nozzle in their car and that they left it in the tank if they did.
    Leaving the nozzle in the tank opening reduces splashing of gasoline and spreading of fire.
    If your rig has it,use foam.Since it's designed for petroleum fires,you'll be able to knock it down faster than with just H20.The first shot of foam should go under the vehicle to absorb any drippings and then sluice the rest of it onto the fire as described above:interior first to create a black zone where the fire cannot go,then the engine compartment to knock it the rest of the way down.
    Hope this helps.

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    If you want to shut down the highway and state PD doesn't....you shut down the highway and the PD can't do anything but moan and complain.
    Might want to check your state laws on that. In NJ, what you are saying is not true....as was somewhat found out by a FD recently.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughesson View Post
    gas caps are plastic to allow them to melt and blow off built up pressure to reduce the chance of a BLEVE.
    Let the thing melt.
    this is true. NEVER attempt to take the gas cap off. built up pressure can spew burning gas onto a firefighter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Might want to check your state laws on that. In NJ, what you are saying is not true....as was somewhat found out by a FD recently.
    i remember seeing something on firehouse.com recently about a chief or something who was arrested because he refused to move his apparatus to allow traffic to flow through after he was told by a police officer to move it.

    i am not 100% sure how the law works with this subject, but i do know it is illegal to block traffic. now as far as a firetruck on a fire scene, as long as you are operating on the scene of a working fire (car, residential, whatever) then you may have no choice but to block traffic. this is for safety reasons. but when there is no immediate danger to civilians, a lane of traffic should be opened, so long as there are people to control traffic (police officers or firefighters working traffic control). this is why they teach us where to step/not to step on scenes because of moving traffic (more so on MVC's). you cant just shut down traffic just because YOU FEEL like you should. thatís why when you are working on scene and you know there is an open lane for traffic to move through you donít just blindly walk into that lane.

    if you are on-scene at a car fire, yes shut down traffic while fire suppression activities are taking place. one you have a knock on the fire and the threat has been minimized, you should consider opening up lanes of traffic.

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    KevinFFVFD...you are absolutely right. There is no need to shut down a high way if there is no need for it, but it should be considered during a fully involved car fires.

    Bones. Our chief/fire Marshall has made CT cops shut down the highway against their, but it was only because of our saftey, but then again...we don't get too many good car fires that require us to shut down the highway.

    It really depends where you are and what cops are on duty. Some of our state troopers will have the highway completely shut down for us before we even get there. They have even told us when we were en-route to come up the highway in the wrong direction so we can skip traffic. (This has never happened for us, but neighboring companies)

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    this brings me back to a 18-wheeler fire that i fought once.....

    about 8:00 P.M. my station gets a report of a 18-wheeler on fire in the eastbound lane on the interstate close to the county line. no information on if the driver is out of the truck, or what he is hauling. so we get in the eastbound lane, and when we get about 2 miles from the fire we are blocked by about 100 cars and 18-wheelers backed up. we radio to dispatch that we cant get through and they advise highway patrol and sheriff deputies were on scene and have stopped traffic because the cab was fully involved and was moving into the trailer he was hauling, which we still are not sure what is in it. they advise us that they will shut down westbound traffic and come in that way. so we rode the rest of the 2 miles eastbound in the westbound lane, kinda cool.

    so we get on scene and the cab if BURNING BIG TIME. and to make matters worse the tanks holding the 18-wheelers fuel ruptured and its on fire. so to make a long story short, we get the fire out, check the trailer (he was hauling aluminum by the way) and decide to open up one lane of traffic. we determined the fire was out and turned it over to the highway patrol and left. the rest is history.

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    I have to disagree: 2004 Esko Mn. Interstate 35 Car fire. 1 firefighter killed 2 injured and a state trooper injured due to a rubbernecker who plowed into the back of the troopers car. The trooper would not alow the FD to close Down the interstate because it will cause a traffic jam WHO CARES. He intern ended up in the hospital, The firefighters wife watched her husband get killed. It is our As... on the line Im sorry if I inconvenence a few people to save my life and that of my crew. 2005 a dep chief killed by a drunk driver replacing a baracade after a car fire in st. cloud MN. Protect ourselves make it home to your family. Block traffic and protect your scene.

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    KEV: Not knocking ya but might be better next time to find out what He's carring before ya put the fire out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wag11c View Post
    KEV: Not knocking ya but might be better next time to find out what He's carring before ya put the fire out.
    we were trying to. he had no placards, no paper manifests saying what he was carrying, and he hardly spoke any English. so when we asked him what was in the trailer we couldnít understand him. the fire was not in the trailer yet, but was close to catching it on fire, so we went ahead and started to put out the fire before it got to the trailer....

    again, maybe it could have been done better, but at the moment thatís what we felt we needed to do. you can look over it 100 times and find different ways to do it.

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    Traffic Control/Lane Control
    In most cases, the car was in use prior to bursting into flames. With that in mind, it is probably still on the road so the safety of your crew becomes paramount. So alonng with the many hazards listed here, especially from fireman4949, don't forget all the skylarker's and rubber-necker's waiting to run you over.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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