A seldom recognized part of America's fire problem is motor vehicle
1 out of 5 fires involves motor vehicles.
1 out of 8 fire deaths results from motor vehicle fires.
600 people are killed and 1,200 firefighters are injured a year from motor
Motor vehicle fires can be dangerous!
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 carbon monoxide, an odorless colorless 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 of less
than 500 degrees F. Flames from burning vehicles can often shoot out distances
of 10 feet or more.
Parts of the vehicle 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.
Vehicle fires are so dangerous that firefighters wear full protective
fire resistant equipment and self-contained breathing apparatus to keep
themselves safe. They have the ability to quickly put out vehicle fires
with large amounts of water or other extinguishing agents. You don't have
these safety advantages so use extra caution. Motor vehicle fires can be
If there is a fire, what should I do?
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.
Get yourself and all others out of and away from the vehicle.
After you are a safe distance from the vehicle, call the fire department
at 911 or the local emergency telephone number. Tell them the location
of the fire.
Remain away from the vehicle: do not attempt to get back into a burning
vehicle to retrieve personal property.
Never put yourself in danger using a fire extinguisher. If you use a fire
extinguisher, only do so from a safe distance and always have a means to
It is recommended to use a fire extinguisher approved for use on class
"B" and class "C" fires. Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a
fire under it. Air could rush in, enlarging the fire, leading to injury.