• In Gear April/May 2016
  • In Gear February/March 2016
  • In Gear December/January 2016
  • In Gear October/November 2015
  • In Gear August/September 2015
  • In Gear June/July 2015

Pack a fire extinguisher so you don't get burned

Four-wheelers are good about packing their vehicles with tools, tow straps, winch, food, water - you name it; they include it.
 
One piece of equipment that often gets overlooked, however, happens to be one of the more critical items: a fire extinguisher. Remember that a fire could occur inside or outside your vehicle. Ever wonder what you’d do if your campfire or stove got out of hand? Or if your engine compartment started smoking? You may never experience a fire–and I hope you don’t–but if you do, you’ll be thankful you packed an extinguisher. Many smaller fires can be snuffed out quickly and safely.
 
Extinguishers come in many sizes. I’ve found the 3 lb. size adequate for vehicles. Buy two high-quality refillable models. You’ll spend a few extra dollars, but it’ll be worth it. Think of a fire extinguisher as an insurance policy. You don’t want to cut corners there.
 
Mount one on the passenger side of the transmission tunnel. The other should be mounted in a visible spot on or near the back gate. The key here is that it is accessible. Too many people mount or place their extinguishers under boxes or other stuff in the back. It won’t do you any good if you can’t grab it quickly.

Another good spot, especially on smaller vehicles, is on the roll bar. Regardless of where you mount the extinguishers, make sure to review their locations and use with your passengers before departing.
 
Fire extinguishers come in a variety of types depending on their use. We’ll review only the more common ones here. (For more information, go to www.tvfr.com/dept/fm/extinguishers/index.html.) I’d like to thank my friends at Outdoor Adventure USA (www.oausa.net) for all their helpful comments.
 
Dry chemical
The most popular form for personal use, these are given a letter rating depending on the type of fire they are designed for. Make sure your extinguisher is rated ABC. That way it can be used on all types of fires, including fuel and electrical.
 
Advantages: They are easy to operate and will work on all types of fires, if you select the proper model.
 
Disadvantages: Once discharged, even for a short burst, they must be recharged. The pressure drops and you’ve lost a certain amount of chemical.
 
The nozzle can clog over time, rendering it useless (especially if you’ve discharged some chemical). Inspect the extinguisher regularly for obvious signs of clogging, but also take it in to an appropriate facility for inspection at least once a year. Make sure to keep the tag on the bottle so you know when it was last inspected.
 
Finally, the dry chemical is rather corrosive, and may harm sensitive electronic equipment. Make sure you thoroughly clean anything that has been hit with the chemical.
 
Halon
A very effective agent, but production has been banned due to its effect on the ozone layer. With only limited supplies left, halon extinguishers are becoming harder to find and more expensive.
 
Advantage: Said to be great on suppressing fires. Because it’s a gas, it leaves no residue.
 
Disadvantages: Expensive and difficult to find, and it disperses easily in windy conditions. Best used in enclosed spaces.
 
Halotron®
Marketed as a safer alternative to halon, this gas is said to be very effective in outdoor applications.
 
Advantage: Leaves no residue.
 
Disadvantages: Apparently geared more toward industrial applications, Halotron extinguishers aren’t as readily available. May be more expensive, too.
 
CO2
A colorless, odorless gas, CO2 works by smothering the fire. Literally taking away the oxygen.
 
Advantages: Fairly effective in enclosed spaces and doesn’t leave a residue.
 
Disadvantage: Be careful when using, as the CO2 can affect you as well.
 
Final note: If you have mag wheels, DO NOT spray water on them should they start burning. You’ll cause an explosion. Use a Class D extinguisher if you have one, or let the fire department handle it. You can find more information on Class D extinguishers on the Web page mentioned above or through a quick Web search.
 
As you can see, an ABC-rated dry chemical extinguisher is probably your best bet. But what’s most important is that have extinguishers aboard. Inspect your vehicle now and install an extinguisher if you don’t already have one.
 
 
Tom is the president of Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc., a four-wheel drive school. Find out more by calling 310-374-8047, or visiting www.4x4training.com

Join CA4WDC
Donate to Cal4Wheel

Latest News

  • Comments on draft Lake Tahoe plan due April 30 +

    Opportunity to Comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Integrated Management and Use of Roads, Trails, and Facilities Project Read More
  • Jones bill to restore and protect OHV funding clears transportation committee +

    Bill clears Assembly Transportation Committee and now heads to Appropriations Committee A bill by Assemblyman Brian Jones (R- Santee) to Read More
  • April is nomination month for Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame +

    Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame logo Induction ceremony will be October 31 in Las Vegas Do you know someone who belongs in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall Read More
  • Military exercise set for August in Johnson Valley +

    John Stewart and others review maps of Johnson Valley Reprinted from the Lucerne Valley Leader, April 12, 2016 Additional public meeting set for June 25 The month-long closure of Read More
  • Third generation in a 50-year-old Jeep on the Rubicon +

    Peter Seck and his 1967 Jeep CJ-5. Photo courtesy Wall Street Journal. Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2016 Peter Seck, 50, a packaging sales rep from Granite Bay, Calif., Read More
  • 1
  • 2