Thoughts on the best fire extinguishers to carry in your car?
Me too. It's not that I have no confidence in Lotus, it's just a general concern I have with a car that I put a lot of time and effort into keeping in top condition. I carry a fire extinguisher in my MR2 for this reason.Randy Chase said:I know that it is a pretty helpless feeling to see your car (or someone else's car) catch fire and have no ability to fight it. Even if the possibility is low, I want to be able to put out a minor fire.
It is a good idea to carry on of these in any car just in case, but probably more so in the Elise, simply because it has a compact engine bay with some very hot components in proximity to combustable materials (e.g. oil and exhaust). Being fibre glass a small fire can also do a lot of damage unless put out quickly. Aluminium also has the undesirable property of burning once a high enough temperature has been reached. A serious fire in an Elise will not leave much intact, as the following sites show:
A small fire extinguisher can be bought for less than £20 and should be mounted in reach of the driver. Drilling into the rear bulkhead is not a good idea since the engine and petrol tank lie behind it. Velcro is not recommended to fix it and bolting it to the foot rest is also not a good idea as it is only held in place by velcro. The only real solution is to mount it infront of the passenger seat. You can drill into the grooved bar in front of the seat but most owners use a special fabricated mounting bracket which utilises the seat mounting bolts to hold it in place. The Lotus service manual recommends the use of Rivnuts into the foot plate (in front of the seat) and shows the precise location required, in order to provide a firm mounting.
Lotus sell a suitable fire extinguisher and also a motorsport item that is plumbed into the engine bay. Some examples of fitting of fire extinguishers can be found on-line:
Places that sell them include:
The simple set-up in my car has done ten track days so far without problems. The footrest is pretty well wedged against the bulkheads for deceleration and lateral cornering forces, but as it is only secured to the floor with Velcro, and the extinguisher a clip fit in the mounting bracket it is possible that a hard rearwards impact or rollover might rip it loose. However, I'm not inclined to test this and if it worries you, then you ought to put a retaining strap on your stereo head unit as well as I'm told these shoot out of the dashboard quite nicely under similar circumstances.
The extinguisher is made by Guardian and is a medium sized BCF type, - 0.8kg? It came from Halfords and cost a massive £12.99. I'm told BCF puts out fires better than AFFF for a given weight but also eats into hot metal and makes a bit of a mess. To be honest, if it did catch fire seriously I think I'd run away rather than try and put it out - in the end personal safety takes priority.
The next step up is a 2.25kg AFFF handheld, which will fit laterally on the ribbed cross member in front of the passenger seat so they can tread on it each time they get in and out. If you get one of these, make sure it has an over-centre clamp to hold it into it's bracket or you can bounce it loose on big kerbs.
However, I suspect the only fire extinguisher than does anything other than keep the scrutineers happy is a fully plumbed system to cockpit, engine bay and front compartment (in case of electrical fires) with an external trigger. One of these is on my long term shopping list, but they take up lots of space in the car, require lots of fixing holes to be drilled and are only really relevant for rallies or on the Nurburgring where help may not be readily to hand.
I have seen one car catch fire at a track day - a Renault Alpine A110. The driver noticed the smoke, pulled smartly up next to a marshall's post and they extinguished it with the proper kit.
In case any lawyers are reading this, I should point out that I am completely unqualified to offer advice on safety related matters and that driving a car of any sort anywhere is a dangerous activity to be undertaken at your own risk.