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Engine Bay Fire Supression

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by mikey_d05, May 9, 2005.

  1. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Alright, in light of recent events I'm gonna start a thread about an engine bay fire suppression system. I've had several ideas but haven't had the time or ambition to implement them. If you have any ideas or a current system please post up. Here are mine:

    #1. A breakable port like you see on boats all the time. We have three on our inboard/outboard boat and I'm confident that in the event of a fire, it would be containable via this system. All you'd have to do is carry a fire extinguisher like most people do already.

    #2. A fire extinguisher hardmounted in the passenger compartment, plumbed to hardlines into the engine bay. You could easily put out most fires this way but you'd have to stay in the passenger compartment gripping the handle until the fire was out or the extinguisher was discharged. You could get around this by using a zip tie or something to loop over the handle and get the full discharge without staying there.

    #3. A fire extinguisher or two mounted in the engine bay, plumbed to lines that discharge at multiple locations. The extinguishers would have to be activated via an electric solenoid or some such system. They would be connected to an OH SH!T type of switch or button in the cab. This would be quick and easy to activate and bail out, but would rely on your car's systems to activate, leaving a couple of variables that could go up in flames, literally.

    That's a basic layout of the systems I have thought of. If you have any ideas, improvements, suggestions, or systems of your own, please post up. I've been thinking about rigging this up for a while and some recent unfortunate events have kind of spurred me into action.
     
  2. PhoenixZorn

    PhoenixZorn 1/2 ton status

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    Let me add something, since this post was created in honor of MY recent events...

    It would not be necessary to have any sort of electrical stuff run into the engine compartment for a solenoid... a capacitor in the rear of the truck would provide all the power necessary, as they are constantly charged by the battery while everything is running ok, then are capable of running "Solo" when the sh!t hits the proverbial fan. The fire extinguisher should also be mounted in the rear of the vehicle, as it is least likely to be affected by the fire until it is no longer useful anyway.

    Running a copper tubing system through the floor and under the body into the engine bay, then surrounding the engine along the quarter panel tops should do well to contain any fire. A jetted nozzle system can be gotten from any fire suppression supply house (think restaurant fire hoods) and shouldn't be very expensive to set up. If properly done, it should be able to contain just about anything our engines can dish out... along with hooking up the electronic fire suppression system to the solenoid, you should also consider hooking up a fuel shutoff solenoid to the same circuit... in the event that the fire suppression system is activated, the fuel would be cut off at the tank immediately, preventing a flare up from gas vapors.

    All of this could theoretically be controlled with an alarm remote, so there is no danger to the driver from staying in the vehicle to press the button... thus risking not only an explosion, but getting cooked as well.


    As a side note, know that I will be installing such a system if and when I rebuild by truck... It was suggested I do a pickup cab... but I need passenger room, and my wife wants 4 doors (because it's very difficult to remove a 5 year old from a back seat during a fire)... so I may have to custom fabricate something...
     
  3. nvrenuf

    nvrenuf NONE shall pass! Premium Member

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    Summit has what you're looking for, prices range from $310-$500.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. gjk5

    gjk5 3/4 ton status

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    #1 is exactly what I meant in the other thread, and sounds like the easiest to implement.

    for that matter, a simpler way to do #3 would be to just mount the canisters in the bay and just run some zip ties to a common cable so they all engaged together with the pull of one cable and discharged fully.
     
  5. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Looks pretty cool. I know you can't put a price on safety but I have most of the materials around here so I could do it for almost free. I'll definitely remember that for the future though. Don't know why I didn't think of a racing catalog first.
     
  6. kgblazerfive

    kgblazerfive keymaster Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    The best thing would be the Summit system or Jegs or any Race car type system.
    Other option is just an extinguisher in the cab, most fires start little enough that they can easily be put out. Put three if you want one on passenger side one driver and one in the back.
    If you still have wheel wells you can cut extinguiser holes in them so your not poping the hood with a engine fire.
    A battery cut off switch will stop electrical fires from continuing at least the electric part of them.
    Steel braided lines instead of rubber will do a great deal to prevent engine fires, if a back fire happens turn the truck on and that will put out carb fires. The braided steel lines would have prevented Phoenix's fire from the sound of it.
    The only problem with dumping three or four extinguishers in an engine is the mess that you have to clean up but if it worked it was worth it.

    Lots of little things currently in use will work to help prevent engine fires don't need to re-invent the wheel to make it happen.

    The extinguishers mounted or routed into the engine are a good idea untill you have a brake catch fire.
     
  7. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    We have a couple of CO2 extinguishers around here, I was considering those to keep the mess down but I'm guessing halon would do a much better job.

    I know that I could use much simpler methods already in use, but when very bad things happen very quickly, I tend to panic. Having a switch, button, or simple method would decrease the complexity of an operation and leave less room for my error.

    If I put one of these systems to use, I would still carry the extinguisher I have bolted to the trans tunnel. An engine bay system is NOT a replacement for a free fire extinguisher, simply a different way to put out an engine fire without opening the hood.
     
  8. kgblazerfive

    kgblazerfive keymaster Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    If you do build a engine bay system the only thing that I would worry about is having enough pressure to run through the lines to the engine I don't know if the kit ones are higher pressure or what. The hand ones I don't think would work pressure wise.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2005
  9. ZooMad75

    ZooMad75 1/2 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    This has got me thinking too. No one wants to see thier truck burn. I've got an extinguisher, but need to mount it for easy access.

    I've seen a buddies early bronco catch fire while on a wheeling trip. Talk about a friggen circus. Everybody paniced (we were camping far away from any fire station). Fuel line broke at the carb, but the owner (who didn't know his engine was on fire) kept revving it up to make it warm up faster. Each time he reved it up (pushing more fuel with the mechanical pump) the flames danced out from under the fenderwells. We finally got him to shut it off and someone wanted to open the hood. We are yelling NOOOOO! Don't give it more air! Sure enough one guy did and the side of the fire doubled instantly. No one had an extinguisher handy so another guy dumped 5 gallons of water on it. Another no-no, throwing water on a gasoline fire. The fire got spread out by the water, but not out. Meanwhile people are running around like chickens with thier head cut off looking for an extinguisher. So we improvised, we had pleanty of dirt and knowing that the air cleaner was still in place and not melted, we started throwing as much dirt as we could on the fire. By the time we almost had it out another guy came up with an extinguisher and put the last of it out.

    Lucky for us, the water cooled most of the wiring off and kept it from melting, the dirt while messy did smother most of the flames further protecting the wiring and carb. Fact is fire makes people panic, having the tools easily accessable to use would have saved us a ton of time.

    I'm going to mount up the one I got and get another for the other side. Better to have something more than nothing! That and making sure you minimize the risk by using braided or factory steel hard lines for fuel delivery and keeping the engine in tune to eliminate a nasty backfire (carb and timing). By limiting the possible sources of a fire starting, the risk is reduced. Check the wiring for possible chaff points that could cause a short to ground (spark) or put the electrical system into meltdown. Electrical fires are nasty and could set other items on fire from say a leaky carb or valve cover gasket that has coated the block with oil. A battery cut off switch would be good insurance for that event. It might save the electrical system if not the whole truck.

    Also another common point of fire is from trans cooler lines bursting and spraying onto the exhaust. Check the condition and make sure if you have the factory style quick connections that they are not leaking slightly. First they leak and then they pop off.
     
  10. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    It would be interesting (but likely impossible) to figure out how many vehicle fires (not covered later by recalls, not naming names *ford*) are caused by things OTHER than tampering.

    I'm sure it's possible, but with the sheer number of vehicles out there not catching on fire, it seems hard to believe that owner error isn't the cause of 99% of the fires out there.

    Not intending to point fingers. It would just seem that in the case of vehicle fires, prevention is the key, not suppression. Of course, it never hurts to have a fire extinguisher on hand, you or someone else may need it.

    I'm all about safety, but I'm just not aware of these trucks being under any sort of "fire danger" above and beyond any other vehicle out there. Some things can't be prevented no matter how hard you try, (car accidents) but fires seem to not fall in that category. I just don't think people should be scared into thinking that a fire is just around the corner in every case. If things are done right, issues such as fire are extremely unlikely.

    The cost of a suppression system in most cases could probably be just as well spent on prevention or increased insurance coverage.
     
  11. Fierospeeder

    Fierospeeder Banned

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    happens a lot in racing. The cause of fire is considered "the act of god". "Things" are done right in racing and fires happen. Hmm, maybe thats why summit carries such equipment. And race car drivers are required to wear fire retardent suits.

    Offroading is considered a motorized sport and shares the same hazards as other racing.


    I give props to mikey, and not hating the idea like dyeager. Or stating you could have preventing it. :rolleyes:
     
  12. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    As I said, some things aren't preventable. Rubber fuel or tranny lines, worn out components, improper install all are. Racing? Fires happen, higher percentage than everyday drivers? Yep. Many racecars built on a tight budget, not using "correct" or good quality components? Yep. I also know racers that have never had a vehicle fire, and that tells me something about their attention to detail and concern over construction. Friends that race use 5/8" lug nut studs, so what? How does that apply to our situation here? It doesn't, thats extreme use far and above what almost all deal with.

    I don't think most here consider their trucks in the "racecar" category, nor are they operated under anything near "racing" conditions. I don't know many folks on this board pushing their trucks in the 600HP range for 500 miles each time they drive. Those that build truggy's and DO race, sure. But they pretty much build the vehicle from the ground up. Those situations are a lot different than the aftermarket tranny coolers or inline fuel filters so many install on their daily drivers. If we're restricting the suppression topic to racing conditions only, great, I'll bow out. But unless I'm mistaken, the last fire mentioned was on the street in a daily driver??

    If an owner installed rubber transmission line bursts, causes a fire, and was not original on the vehicle, someone may call that an act of god, but I wouldn't. I'd call that preventable, regardless of what an insurance company says.

    Catching a field on fire with the exhaust is entirely possible, but I'd like to see an underhood suppression system solve that, if you want to talk fire suppression and "motorized sport".

    "Hating" an idea, and calmly and rationally presenting another way to look at something is not the same. I hope you don't feel the need to drag this post down. If you'd like to post some constructive reasons why fire suppression is necessary and worth the expense and effort on a daily driver, and how that applies to a type of vehicle you don't even own, I'm sure that would be something worth discussing.

    You of all like to point out how people do things "the wrong way" or "think they know what they are doing". Are you insinuating that vehicle fires are almost always an "act of god" and can't be explained any other way, perhaps any mistakes that may have caused them can't be learned from and avoided in the future?
     
  13. Fierospeeder

    Fierospeeder Banned

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    so nascar cars start on fire because they dont spend enough. :rolleyes:


    Im taking it that your not an engineer either, because you would have been required to learn something about the properties of metal.

    Yup, rubber hoses and tall grass are the only things that cause cars to start on fire. :rolleyes:

    lug nuts got into this conversation, why? :confused:


    so people that go off roading can only cause their vehicle to burn down, if they are running 600hp or more. :rolleyes:
    Trucks must not take any abuse when off roading. :rolleyes:
    You should buy four wheeler magazine dvds and learn something.


    how would you prevent a brand new line from bursting? Wrap it with duct tape as a safeguard. ROFL


    common sense here.
    fire suppression = to put out or lessen a fire.
    1. fire suppression would have reduced damaged to mikes engine
    2. fire suppression would have helped prevent the fire from spreading and endangering other people.
    3. fire supression would help save mike's family if they were in the vehicle.
    4. fire supression would allow mike to drive his vehicle still, if it was able to put out all the fire.

    i dont own a truck?
    If you want to argue if i do or not, i wonder if the fiero is known for fire issues. I can give you a list of cars that are more prone to fires due to factory defects.

    Why dont you explain to us how part failure can be avoided in the future?
    Like when people buy a new sensor for their vehicle and it fails. A brand new battery goes bad, a rubber line bursting but it was just made.

    Or how your truck leaks a bunch oil and it can cause a fire? You should fix that. It's a safety hazard to others.
     
  14. Triaged

    Triaged 1/2 ton status

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    I'm with dyeager on this one. Rubber fuel lines are a big no-no! IMO no high pressure lines should ever be rubber. That means having a steel or braided stainless line from the fuel pump to the carb. Another common cause of fires is oil leaks onto the exhaust. Fix the leaks.

    I had a fire in my truck before. I was running 36" tires and 3.73 gears with no aux. trans cooler. The fluid boiled over, puked out the dipstick, landed right on the headers, and burst into flames. 3 people were on it with fire ext's in less then 15seconds. Damage was only 1 crispy wire and a power coated engine. After that I put on a aux. cooler and a van dipstick that moved the end out to the radiator core support. I will never have that problem again.

    Even though I have 2 fire ext's in my truck I only consider them a backup to a properly maintained vehicle. Preventing the fire is the best option and what I would rather spend my $$$ and time on!
     
  15. Fierospeeder

    Fierospeeder Banned

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    those braided stainless lines have an inner rubber line on the inside. Same thing they use on brake hoses. If rubber was so dangerous, then they wouldn't use it for brakes. Ford uses plastic lines for their fuel system.

    So rubber hoses are not the only thing that can cause a car/truck fire!


    Are you running steel lines straight to your trans cooler? I would find that a lot worse then rubber because the steel will fatigue from all the movement.
     
  16. PhoenixZorn

    PhoenixZorn 1/2 ton status

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    Hey guys... before you continue pointing fingers at people for something they didn't do, consider this... My truck had two 2 inch pieces of rubber hose in the whole fuel system, and they were connected to either side of the fuel filter by clamps, which were connected to the steel fuel line with clamps... I pulled, pried, and yanked on all the fittings before I connected it all, and nothing with insecure. All of it was brand new... so in the words of a few others here, it was an "Act of God" and nothing more.

    For those who don't feel a passive fire suppression system is worth the money in our trucks, fine... you have your opinion... but I beg your pardon... if for $500.00 maximum, I can have a system that will put out a fire automatically if there happens to be one, that's FAR more valuable than me paying an extra $400 every 6 months for full coverage on my 1986 truck.... If I were driving a 2005 Burb or Tahoe, you'd bet I'd have full coverage on it... but unless I get special insurance for my truck which would make it illegal for me to daily drive, it's just not worth it to me...

    I understand that an ounce of prevention is like a ton of cure, but wouldn't you like to have the cure readily available just in case the prevention doesn't work?
     
  17. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Some very good points have been made, but some of this is a pissing match.

    Can most fires be prevented? yes

    Does sh!t still happen? YES

    If you really offroad, you've broken something. Period, I don't care who you are. Things go wrong, parts break, and fires can happen. Now, I try to keep both of my vehicles in good shape, but that doesn't mean that they're bulletproof. The way I see it, you can either piss and moan and deny that a fire will happen to you, or you can do something to ensure that even if it does, you're prepared. Why do we build cages? Things go wrong. Why do we build our trucks to take a pounding? It's part of the sport. Why do we carry insurance on our vehicles in the first place? Sometimes things are beyond your control.

    This thread was started to gather ideas about a fire suppression system so I could save my truck if a major fire started, I'm gonna do it no matter what you bastards say, so if you want to tell me that it's a dumb idea, look at the pictures of PhoenixZorn's truck here , open your mouth, insert your foot, and go junk up someone elses thread.
     
  18. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    just get a halon anti fire system like they make for race cars. Fire erupts, you hit the switch and the entire bottle empties. You hold your breath, move away from the vehicle and wait for a short time, return to your rig... your engine bay clean and without fire. Halon is the freakin' bomb. The ONLY "not good" thing about it is that it displaces oxygen, so you can't breath with the stuff in your immediate area. Of course, if you rigged the system to empty under your hood... you'd have plenty of time to evac the area.

    j
     
  19. ZooMad75

    ZooMad75 1/2 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    Just to add to my example on the ford, the leak came from the fuel filter where it screwed into the carb. You know those goofy autolite two barrels? The owner of the truck installed a fresh filter before our run and cross threaded it. The line from the mechanical pump to the filter was a steel hard line (factory equipment). The cross threading and the act of wheeling over Medano Pass to the Great sand dunes only made the problem worse. We were just lucky we were still in camp when it happend.

    Fact is chit does happen. Prevention is cruical like dyeager mentioned. Replace the rubber fuel lines and glass see through in line fuel filters. Fix the leaks and the other sources of fuel for a fire. Make sure the ignition secondary wires are in good shape, not sending an errant spark to the block due to a cracked insulator. Don't need a 40,000 volt spark to light the fire. Still having at least a fire extingusiher handy it extra insurance. Full on race suppresion system may be overkill for some, but if thats what they need for peace of mind so be it....
     
  20. TrcksR4ME

    TrcksR4ME 1/2 ton status

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    I would also agree with Dorian on this one. I have only heard/seen one fire out wheeling and it was a wiring related issue involving some owner made modifications. Comparing racing to this :surepal: ...why is racing always used as a comparison. I think they probably have more fires because they push their vehicles to the max, and I am sorry but most of the wheeling done by people on this board does not compare.

    I also run rubber fuel lines from the pump to carb with a see through glass filter, I have never had a problem with this setup :confused: I have sleaved my fuel line with heater hose and routed it so it does not touch the motor anywhere, but is this really that dangerous?

    Bottom line seems to be, carry a fire extinguisher! Seems most cases I've heard of trucks burning down were where the owner didnt have an extinguisher. I don't think I would make a "fire suppression system" a priority though, maybe something to do if you have the parts and nothing else to work on at the moment.


    And to mikey, I dont think anyone is trying to be a "bastard" and shoot down what you want to do. Personally I do to my truck what I want to do, and other people should do the same with theirs. Popular CK5 opinion should not matter nor should it be a deciding factor. Its good to get opinions, but you know what they say about opinions ;) As to stout drivetrain and roll cages, those are much higher priorities IMO, but if you have done those things no reason not to do a fire supression system. Fires seem to be the exception not the rule in this sport.
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