Vehicles face increased fire risks during hot summer months

Johan Larrson, general manager, Dafo Middle East, points out the major causes of vehicle fires in the UAE and tips to avoid them.

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Accordingly to NFPA Fire Analysis & Research, "U.S. Vehicle fire trends and patterns 2010," 70% of the fires in buses originates from the engine compartment, 12% originates from the passenger area of the vehicle. The majority of fire cases for buses is caused by electrical failure and 12% caused by fuel and oil leaks. Hot climate will also affect components such as brakes, electrical equipment and liquids.

In 2019, Gulf News published an article with the seven most leading causes of car fire in the UAE. The most common cause was fuel leak, if there is a fuel leak, any spark generated around the leak can generate in a blaze. If the fuel leaks and vaporizes into the engine compartment, the fuel/oxygen mix is ideal for ignition. All it needs is an errant spark or for the temperature to rise around a hot component such as turbocharger or exhaust manifold.

Electrical faults and improper wiring are the second most common cause for car fires. Battery and starter cables carry enough current to ignite combustibles in case they are faulty. Cables can fray overtime and result in short circuit. Oil leaks is the third most common cause of car fires. If oil is leaking on a hot surface it can lead to a fire while the car is running. An overheated engine can also be the cause of vehicle fire, if the engine is too hot,
it could result in fluids rising to dangerous temperatures and spilling out onto the engine our exhaust system. Improper maintenance, leaving plastic bottles inside the passenger area on a hot summar day and smoking inside the car can also be a resonable cause for a vehicle fire.

Research indicates that 75% of car fires are cause by bad maintenance, mechanical or electrical failure or malfunctions. Collisions and overturns caused only 3% of these fires but 57% of the associated deaths. One third of non-fatal vehicle fire injuries occurred when civilians attempted to to fight the fire themselves.

Vehicle maintenance and inspection is a crucial part of preventing vehicle fires. Watch for fluid leaks under the vehicle, cracked or blistered hoses, or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or cracked insulation. Avoid throwing cigarette butts anywhere. When driving, be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, such as a louder than usual exhaust tone or smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust. Always carry a fire extinguisher. For commercial vehicles, it is recommended to use an automatic fire suppression system for passenger safety.

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PMV Middle East - May 2020

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