People do understand that they need fire extinguisher in their car at some point and make a well research purchase, at least 70 out of 100 cars do have some type of fire extinguishers these days. What many people don't realize the importance of how to use it right. There are few basic limitation of using car fire extinguisher and many people don't even know them.
I remember doing the same mistake when I first saw the fire and ran to the extinguisher and emptied the whole can without even reducing the size of fire, let alone extinguishing it.
I have been regularly trained and certified Fire Warden with more than 10 years of annual training from Gulf Technical & Safety Training Centre, in Abu Dhabi. I also have a history of saving 4:1 cars, means I saved 4 cars and lost one to the fire (sadly).
In any event of fire, time is of an essence, so sooner and smarter you respond the better the outcome may come. You also need to remember that not all car fires are controllable and it's better to walk away in case fire spreads too quickly, rather than making an attempt to fight it. If fire is not spreading fast then you might have a good window of opportunity ONLY if you know how to correctly use the car fire extinguisher. Wrong use of car fire extinguisher will help spread the fire every second and also running out of your fire extinguisher.
COMMON MISTAKE OR IGNORANCE
Every car fire extinguisher is timed for 5-10-20 seconds of use ONLY. Shooting fire extinguisher from far away is absolutely useless. Find and aim the source of the fire and not the flames. Test / Top up your car fire extinguisher every year. Place your car fire extinguisher within your reach. RIGHT WAY TO USE CAR FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Always try to aim and cut off 1 of 3 these things "SAFELY" if you can: Heat, Oxygen and Fuel. If the fire is inside the engine bay, switch off the car immediately as that will cut off the fuel if its fuel related fire. Do not open the hood and wait to see if smoke or fire subsided. If you are in offroad, let few people constantly throw sand on top of close hood (bonnet), that will help lowering down the temperature (removing HEAT) and in case sand seeps through hood louver it can also help in suffocating fire to cut off the oxygen or at least will let you buy few more seconds to fight it.
Find the source of the fire is a key to extinguish with limited timed fire extinguisher in hand. Even if you see smoke or flames from the hood, but fire source is always down and may be accessible through wheel arc, front grill or even under the car from the sides. Once you spot the correct source, go as close and safe as possible to shoot the fire extinguisher on the base of the fire and sweep (if you can) for at least 5-6 seconds. Base of the fire is always lighter and brighter in color so don't shoot red color flames, instead look for bluish, yellowish, purplish source of the fire. After the first shot, if fire has been put off then wait for 30 minutes to open the hood, if its still on and accessible, shoot again from as close as you can and sweep it from left to right for 5-6 seconds. Once fire is successfully put off, wait for at least 30 mins to open the hood, as cooling off extinguish fire is equally important.
Extinguishing car fire works best with a teamwork, instead everyone coming and emptying the fire extinguisher from various sides. So if you are in offroad and your car catches the fire and you see smoke or flames from the hood, as a first rule of thumb, switch off the car and get your shovel and extinguisher out. If someone is leading then you can support whatever he ask. If you are leading then be ready to get close to the base/source of the fire as soon as possible and advise everyone to keep throwing sand on top of hood and aim to hit the fire base or flame if they can with sand shower. Use every fire extinguisher wisely as its the only thing that can extinguish the fire base very quickly and efficiently. Do not panic, as that will worsen the situation for you to burn your hands or face.
Do not get carried away and you should know when to stop fighting and run away with your critical belonging if fire spreads out quickly.
Disclaimer: All the above knowledge I intend to share with everyone to let them know how to use fire extinguisher safely rather than just wasting it. I do not intend them to become a hero and get burnt. Cars are replaceable but lives and limbs are not.
Example: He could have used 1/2 of the extinguisher if he would have reduced the distance from 6 feet to 3 feet.
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