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Virginia Wing Vehicle Operations Safety Site
Vehicle Fires


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Vehicle Operator Mindset
Vehicle Operator Safety through Education
Vehicle Safety Topics Page One
Vehicle Safety: Tires
Vehicle Safety: Tire Pressure and Hydroplaning
What to do when a tire blows out....
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Vehicle Fires
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Motor Vehicle fires kill an average of 600 people each year.  Thousands
are injured in motor vehicle fires as a result of toxic gases,
hazardous substances, explosions, and flying debris.

Motor vehicle fires can be extremely dangerous, even to firefighters in
full protective gear and breathing apparatus.  In most instances,
drivers should not attempt to extinguish burning vehicles.

A few safety tips:

1.  Get yourself and all others out of and away from the vehicle.  If
the vehicle is in a garage or other structure, exit immediately.

2.  Move a safe distance from the vehicle, and then call the fire
department at 9-1-1.

3.  Try to stay in a location away from the vehicle thoat does not put
you in direct line of the front or rear bumpers.

4.  Remain away from the vehicle.  Do not attempt to get back into a
burning vehicle to retrieve personal property.

5.  Use a fire extinguisher from a safe distance and alwyas have a
means to get away.

6.  For vehicle fires, fire extinguishers approved for use on Class "B"
and Class "C" fires, are recommended.

7.  If you suspect a fire under the hood or in the trunk, do not open. 
Inrushing are can enlarge a fire explosively, causing injury.

Fires in motor vehicles can produce toxic gases.  Automobiles, trucks,
and other motor vehicles are made of many synthetic materials that emit
harmful, if not deadly gases when they burn.  A main by-product of
fires is carbonmonoxide, an odorless clolorless and tasteless gas that
causes death in high concentration.

Fire can cause fatal or debilitating burn injuries.  A vehicle fire can
generate heat upwards of 1,500 degrees F.  Keep in mind that water
boils at 212 degrees F. and that most foods are cooked at temperatures
less than 500 degrees F.  Flames from burning vehicles can often shoot
out distances of 10 feet or more.

Parts of the vehicle that can burst because of heat, shooting debris
great distances.  Bumper and hatchback door struts, two piece tire
rims, magnesium wheels, drive shafts, grease seals, axle, and engine
parts, all can become lethal shrapnel.  Although relatively rare, gas
tanks of motor vehicles can rupture and spray flammable fuel, posing a
clear potential for serious injury.  In even more extraordinary
instances, gas tanks have been known to explode.  Hazardous materials,
such as battery acid, can cause injury even without burning.

The dangers of motor vehicle fires are often overlooked.  Each year,
these fires kill over 600 people and injure thousands more.  Toxic
gases and other hazardous substances, and flying debris and explosion,
combine to produce serious dangers in motor vehicle fires.

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