Fire prevention in and around a vehicle is easier and cheaper than fighting a vehicle fire. Practise the following rules:
- Never start a vehicle that has a fuel leak. Hose away or wipe up spilled fuel.
- Shut off engines when refuelling vehicles.
- Ground the fuel hose nozzle against the filler pipe of the truck tank before delivering fuel.
- Don't smoke in garages or near fuelling areas.
- Never throw cigarette butts out of cab windows. They could blow back into tarps or loads.
- Check tires often for low pressure. Soft tires build heat. Flat or soft tires, which have become overheated, should be removed immediately.
- Do not move the vehicle until the tires have cooled.
- Ensure parking brakes and service brakes are fully released. Dragging brakes generate heat and can ignite grease in hubs when the vehicle stops. Make frequent checks of hubs and brake drums for overheating.
- Keep fire extinguishers in good working condition.
Fighting a fire efficiently requires quick thinking and fast action based on training. All drivers should inspect the fire fighting equipment on their vehicle daily.
Familiarization with types of fires that could occur on the particular vehicle being driven, together with a study of the following, could prevent the loss of a vehicle or personal injury:
- Water spreads gasoline or oil fires. Use extinguishers, sand or dirt to smother.
- Use extinguishers only enough to knock down flames; keep some in reserve for flare ups.
- Disconnect battery cables first for electrical fires. (Shutting off switches and disconnecting battery cables of vehicles involved in collisions can prevent fires caused by leaking fuel, etc.).
- In the case of fires occurring on combination units, if you are sure you can do so safely, disconnect the tractor from the trailer and separate the units to a safe distance apart.
- Whenever possible, fight fires with the wind at your back. (This lessens the chance of asphyxiation).
- In the case of under hood fires - don't throw the hood open. Raise the hood very slightly to fight the fire. If the hood cannot be raised, direct your extinguisher from underneath the vehicle or through the radiator.
- Have the first spectator call the fire department. Warn others of the danger of explosion of gasoline or flammable loads and advise them to keep back a safe distance.
- Don't risk your own life. Gasoline fires can spread rapidly or explode.
About fire extinguishers
Multi-purpose dry chemical (monoammoniumphosphate base) extinguishers marked B.C. extinguish grease, oil, gasoline and electrical fires. If the cylinder is marked A.B.C., it will also extinguish class "A" fires such as paper and cloth. The operator can use these extinguishers without fear of the contents being a health hazard or causing bodily injury.
Petroleum (flammable) hauling vehicles must have an extinguisher with a rating of not less than 20 B.C. or two of 10 B.C.
CO2 extinguishers (carbon dioxide) must be used in open spaces. There is danger of smothering.
Vehicles required to carry a fire extinguisher
Every vehicle registered as a commercial vehicle transporting fuel petroleum products and many vehicles registered as public service vehicles, except trailers, must be equipped with a fire extinguisher of a design or type approved by Underwriters Laboratories, and the extinguisher shall at all times be kept in satisfactory operating condition. Most school buses are required to carry an operative fire extinguisher of at least 2A-10 B.C. If it is a 2000 or newer bus, an operative fire extinguisher of at least 3A-40 B.C. is required.
Extinguishers must be secured in a quick release holder in view of the driver.
Vehicles required to carry flares
- Any vehicle greater than 2,060 mm (81 in.) in width and operating outside the corporate limits of a city, town or village is required to carry three flares consisting of:
- three reflectors
- three advanced warning triangles
- three electric lanterns
- All must be equipped with or carried in a suitable container.
- Flares which are reflectors or advanced warning triangles are required to emit a red reflection visible from a distance of 150 m on a clear night when illuminated by headlights.
- Flares which are electric lanterns are required to emit a red light visible from a distance of 150 m on a clear night and be capable of operating continuously for at least 12 hours.
- Flares must be placed in accordance with point 7 in Good driving habits - Parking.