Hot Issue: Automotive Fire Extinguishers - Page 4 of 4

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by Hib Halverson
© November 2012
No use without permission, All Rights Reserved


The best choice in portable fire extinguishers for carrying in your Vette? We think an extinguisher, charged with ABC dry chemical suppression agent and rated 1-A:10-B:C is a good choice but a 2-A:20-B:C unit is much better if you have the space for it. If you insist on an extinguisher charged with a clean agent, get the biggest one which can fit your mounting location.

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Extinguisher mounting requires some thought. You want the unit where it can be deployed easily, but not mounted in a way which interferes with the vehicle occupants or presents a safety hazard. The owner of this Chevy S10 Blazer mounted a Kidde ProPlus 5MP, 3-A:40-B:C fire bottle (PN 4680010) on the side of the transmission tunnel. It's away from the passenger's legs, but easily accessible by driver or passenger.
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This Kidde Pro-Plus 2.5MP (PN468000) is rated 1-A:10-B:C and was mounted in a hatchback coupe's rear storage compartment. While that location would be our second choice, because the user must get out of the vehicle and open rear hatch to access it, depending on the car's interior space and layout, such a mounting might be the only practical, safe place.
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The owner of this 71 Corvette used the biggest Ansul extinguisher, a Sentry A05, rated 3-A:10-B:C (PN 429001), he could fit in the available space and mounted it in a custom-built aluminum bracket. With the narrow footwells in a C3, you can't mount the extinguisher on the tunnel. In this case, it fits under the passengers legs, just ahead of the passenger seat.

A fire extinguisher needs to be mounted securely and safely in the vehicle. Many units designed for carrying in a car come with some type of mounting bracket or cradle. If your extinguisher does come with a mount, we strongly suggest using it because the unit's maker has designed the mount specifically for that extinguisher. Locate the extinguisher in a place were it can be easily reached, but does not pose a hazard in a collision. One place you absolutely do not want to mount a fire extinguisher is on the windshield post inside the car. In a frontal impact your head or your passenger's head could hit the fire extinguisher resulting in severe head injury or death.

For your garage or shop, have at least a 3-A:40-B:C-rated unit or, better yet, a 4-A:60- or 80-B:C, filled with ABC dry chem. Again, if your workshop activity involves a lot of metal finishing work on aluminum parts, consider a Class-D extinguisher.

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This Kidde ProPlus 10MP 4-A:80-B:C extinguisher (PN468002) is mounted on the wall in a two-car garage. For extinguishers hanging on walls, fire safety experts say the mount or hanger should be installed such that the top of the extinguisher is between 3.5- and 5-feet above the floor.

In closing, we can’t emphasize enough that portable fire extinguishers are for attacking a fire before it gets too large and/or is spreading fast. If a fire is already that way when you become aware of it, don’t bother with a fire extinguisher. Run the other way and dial 911 because you need a big truck with flashing lights, siren, big hoses and a company of firefighters.

Another issue we can’t repeat too many times: if you decide to fight a fire with a portable extinguisher, make sure you have an escape route, approach to 6-10 feet then PASS...pull the pin, aim at the base of the flames, squeeze the handles and sweep side-to-side.

Thanks to the people at Tyco International’s Ansul brand, UTC Fire and Security’s Kidde brand, John Dregenburg, Consumer Safety Director at Underwriter’s Laboratories and Nagan Fire and Safety for assistance in researching this article.

Project sponsors

Ansul Incorporated
Marinette, WI 54143-2542

Nargan Fire and Safety
629 Firestone Rd # A
Goleta, CA 93117

National Fire Protection Association
1 Batterymarch Park
Quincy, MA 02169-7471
617 770-3000

Underwriters Laboratories
2600 N.W. Lake Rd.
Camas, WA 98607-8542

UTC Fire and Security
Kidde Residential and Commercial
1016 Corporate Park Dr. Mebane NC 27302

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