There are millions of journeys carried out every day on the roads, and in the past year, there have been over 23,500 vehicle fires just in England alone. Having a vehicle fire extinguisher in your car, taxi, minibus, van, or HGV is the best way of protecting yourself and your passengers.
Of those fires occurring between 2016 and 2017, around half were accidental fires, and it’s in those instances when you’re driving down the road when you’re most at risk.
For domestic cars, there is no law requiring a car fire extinguisher, unless you’re driving in certain European countries. However, for the little they cost and the small amount of space they take up, one day they could save your life and prevent thousands of pounds of damage.
Commercial vehicles can require an ABC dry powder extinguisher when they’re transporting dangerous goods, while in other vans and company cars it is recommended.
For those driving a taxi, minibus, other PSVs, and HGVs, there are regulations which you must ensure you follow, and these can vary.
Choosing the Right Car Fire Extinguisher
The specific regulations for the size and type of extinguisher you require can vary according to the local licensing authority. So for a specific answer to what you require, you should first contact them for a definitive answer.
Generally speaking in England, Scotland and Wales, the best way to protect your taxi or minicab, and those inside, is with an ABC dry powder extinguisher, 1 or 2kg. This will safely protect against the fires you’re most likely to encounter in or around your vehicle.
In a PSV, such as a minibus or other vehicle capable of carrying nine or more passengers, then it is mandatory to carry a car fire extinguisher, ideally a 2-litre AFFF Foam extinguisher. This will be suitable for most fires inside the vehicle, and those involving fuels and oils.
In Northern Ireland from the 6th of November 2017, new legislation comes into force. This requires all taxis, minibuses, and other public service vehicles to carry a water or foam fire extinguisher, with at least a 2-litre capacity, and a minimum fire rating of 8A or 34B. However, with the flammable liquids you expect to find in your vehicle, a foam fire extinguisher is the safest option.
Where a fire extinguisher is a must in your vehicles, checks can be made on the roadside and during the annual roadworthiness test, and failure to comply carries a hefty fine.
Where to Place the Vehicle Fire Extinguisher
There are very few rules when it comes to securing a fire extinguisher to the vehicle, other than making sure it is installed using the transport unit, not affected by weather, and is easy to get to.
Where there are no strict requirements, then you can place it in the driver/passenger compartment, or in the boot for taxis and minicabs. Generally, it’s good advice to place your fire extinguisher in a location where you have to get out of the vehicle to reach it, such as the boot.
This removes the temptation to sit in the seat and extinguish the fire, and instead forces you to evacuate the vehicle before tackling it. This means should your efforts to extinguish the flames not work, then you’re already safe rather than still sitting in a burning car.
Just make sure it is mounted securely to prevent it from rolling around and getting damaged.