A fire extinguisher should be a part of EVERY motorist's 'tool-kit'. This is especially critical for offroader's who are likely to be beyond the reach of most fire department equipment! Also, even when driving around town a fire in your vehicle can quickly go from a spark to charred ruins long before the fire department can respond. Face it, a fire extinguisher is an inexpensive and MUST HAVE piece of equipment!
Choosing an extinguisher.
You won't need to spend a ton of $$$ on these. I purchased my Kidde fire extinguisher from Home Depot for about $10. They often will offer "2 packs" for around $20 giving you the opportunity to grab one for your garage or shop area as well. While you are there, check the bracket mounting and pick up some appropriate bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts. You should get out of there for under $15 for a single extinguisher and hardware.
Fire Extinguishers come in different classes and are designed to put out different types of fires. Be sure to get one rated for FUEL and ELECTRICAL fires at a minimum!
You do NOT want to use an old extinguisher using liquid fire suppressants on a fuel fire! Gasoline FLOATS and can wash everywhere taking flames with it!!! In other words, the wrong extinguisher can spread a fire! Another caution goes for electrical fires... using a liquid extinguisher can ELECTROCUTE YOU since most liquids will conduct electricity! Be sure to check the label and get the correct extinguisher.
Here's what to look for:
- Class A: Ordinary Combustibles Stay away from Class A only extingquishers. They are intended for paper and wood fires and are NOT suited for gasoline or electrical fires!
- Class B: Flammable Liquids Intended to suppress grease, oil, gasoline and other flammable liquids.
- Class C: Electrical Equipment Intended for electrical fires where danger of electrocution is present. Fire extinguishing agent is non-conductive and will not conduct electricity.
- Class D: Combustible Metals Specialized extinguisher often using suppressants designed specifically for certain metals only. Not commonly found outside of industry and fire fighting usage. (If your rig's metal is on fire... it's waaaay too late anyhow!)
Be aware that most modern fire extinguishers are Multi Class... that is, they can be used on more than one type of fire. For the greatest amount of protection, be sure that these three symbols are present to indicate the extinguisher is rated A.B.C. and can be safely used on all three types of common fires.
The label should have these three symbols:
WARNING! READ AND KNOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS
YOU WON'T HAVE TIME TO READ OR PRACTICE WHILE A FIRE IS BURNING!!!
NEVER, EVER count on a partially used extinguisher!!! DO NOT TEST SPRAY an extinguisher!
If you EVER use your extinguisher... REPLACE (or refill) IT!!!
Most smaller extinguishers are typically not intended to be refilled but you should examine the label. Check the gauge often! Never count on a partially discharged extinguisher, always replace or refill (if applicable)!
Shop Mounting Locations.
Use some common sense here... if it's mounted on the back wall over behind that old refrigerator, it won't do you any good for a fire at the other end of the garage. Also - someone visiting your shop may not be able to find the extinguisher while you're running in circles acting like Michael Jackson in a Pepsi commercial... Your extinguisher should be mounted where it is readily accessible by ANYONE and easy to FIND AND REACH in the event of a fire!
Look around... if there was a fire, and you were inside your shop: Where would an extinguisher be most accessible? Now go outside and think about what happens if you are outside and a fire starts inside your shop... can you still get to it? Kidde offers 'two packs' at a reasonable price so it makes sense to have at least two extinguishers mounted inside your shop or garage area (plus more in the house).
Next to the shop door... easy access from inside or out!
Since the main idea here isn't home handyman projects... I won't go into the details of locating and/or mounting them inside your shop. There are plenty of sites online for that plus the instructions included with your extinguisher will explain location and mounting suggestions. All hardware for interior mounting was included with my extinguisher but you should check the box prior to leaving the store to make sure you have any special hardware required.
Vehicle Mounting Locations.
Keep it handy. Your extinguisher will be useless if you can't QUICKLY get it and use it! This means Don't stuff it inside a trail box! and Don't cover it up with a ton of junk either! A fire extinguisher won't do you a bit of good if it's burning up with the rest of your truck!
If at all possible, you should mount it where YOU CAN GRAB IT AS YOU GET OUT of your rig! Common locations include alongside the driver's seat between the seat and the door as shown here:
(Photo courtesy of JpCommanche. Please visit his webshots homepage!)
Another easy to grab location is on the rear seat support as shown here mounted on the rear seat support behind the driver's seat of a 2 door XJ. A 4 door might not have enough foot room to safely mount it here without risking damage to the extinguisher or tripping up passengers as they exit. Evaluate your mounting position with this in mind!
No matter where you locate it, be sure you can quickly grab it as you 'bail' out to fight a fire.
Here's another mounting idea if your lift isn't too high (Right, Cecil? ):
(Photo courtesy of Jay Davenport.)
(Photo courtesy of Jay Davenport.)
Jay reports no problems after a year with his extinguisher up top so if you do decide to roof mount, please make sure you mount the nozzle where the rack will protect it from tree limbs! Either way, it's a good idea to consult with the manufacturer to make sure both the extinguisher and mounting bracket can withstand both direct UV sunlight and heat! Jay has his tucked in close to the bars outside the rack and up over the roof. This position is protected but if treelimbs are an issue then mount it inside the rack or over the hatch on your rack's rear bars.
In any case, when choosing a mounting location, be sure that the nozzle and trigger will NOT be damaged by passengers or daily usage. Mine has been located here in my 2 door XJ for over a year with no problems. Regardless of mounting area, be sure to place the nozzle out of harm's way. Note that the charge gauge is readily visible too. Be sure to check it regularly and maintain a full charge (in Green Zone).
Mounting is easy for most extinguisher brackets. In this case, only two holes needed to be drilled with the bracket used as a template. Watch drilling through carpet... drill bits will snag carpet fibers and unravel carpet. Use a larger sized nail to 'ream' out a larger hole for the drill bit to help avoid that. Make sure the drill bit isn't going to chew into anything important on the other side especially if you mount through the floor. Drilling a hole into your gas line and starting a fire would be somewhat ironic (and STUPID ) given the whole idea here...
ALWAYS check behind any area you intend to drill through!
(This view is from cargo area facing forward with seat folded up and shows -2- extinguisher bolts through rear seat support.)
Although I prefer my extinguisher up front, you can readily mount one elsewhere. Here, 'Delfindle' has one mounted in his XJ's rear cargo area where it's accessible from the hatch. Note that his extinguisher is not loose or covered up with equipment and is also securely mounted up & out of the way.
Thanks to 'Delfindle' (Dustin) for use of this picture. . )
Now pray that you NEVER need to use an extinguisher in an emergency!
If you have pics of your own repairs or can suggest other methods - please contribute your ideas (and pictures) to this article!
November 20, 2006