Commercial Vehicles – Can you afford not to carry a Fire Safety Stick?
Hear from a Flatbed truck owner who had a devastating fire, and what he wished he had!
With increased risks of fires within vehicles these days, more and more company and commercial vehicles are being fitted with small portable fire extinguishers. Fleet managers are aware of the impact of vehicles off the road due to fire damage. And of course, naturally, they want to ensure the safety of their staff out on the road.
Here in the UK, there are no legal requirements for specific fire extinguishers for most commercial vehicles. Of course, quite correctly it is common sense and good practice for these to also carry fire extinguishers for their own safety but also for others.
Notable exceptions are those carrying members of the public (PSV) or dangerous goods (ADR). In the case of Recovery Operators, PAS43 (the industry standard) states that they should carry a 2kg Dry Powder as a minimum. There are though, guidelines that strongly recommend that portable fire extinguishers should be carried in commercial vehicles here in the UK.
Very often traditional, pressurised extinguishers are being fitted, sadly though, it is rare that correct training is given to the drivers of the vehicles. As a result, they may be unaware of how to correctly use the extinguisher or which type of fire they are suitable for, thereby placing themselves in increased danger PLUS they are not aware of the health risks associated with the contents of the powder extinguishers, or even possible asphyxiation by using CO2 extinguishers in confined spaces. As well as the personal risks for the member of staff, it is also potentially exposing the employer to significant liabilities as a result too.
Taking a typical 1kg dry powder extinguisher as an example, since this is the most common type carried. Firstly, the actual gross weight is 2.25kg, and its active lifecycle is 5 years but must be professionally serviced each year and yet its discharge time will be no more than 6-7 seconds. They are very sensitive and many fleet managers will already have cases whereby the pressurised extinguisher has dropped and then accidentally activated. As a result, the contents of the extinguisher have covered the interior of the vehicle. Due to its caustic nature, this powder will likely destroy any equipment or stock in the storage area or even the dashboard and instrumentation. The cost implications for the firm are considerable, including the downtime as the vehicle is taken out of service. In fact, it has been known that the costs were so high, that the vehicle alone was an insurance write-off!
Now there is an incredibly innovative, new solution which overcomes the majority of these issues, as well as being so cost-effective when replacing even the smallest traditional type extinguishers, it is saving fleet managers and companies a considerable amount each year.
The Fire Safety Stick weighs just 215g (gross weight) thereby saving over 2kg in weight for the vehicle and of course, a lighter vehicle means less fuel required. It has a minimum 15-year shelf life. This means it lasts over 3 times longer than those traditional extinguishers, another cost saving. It needs no annual servicing – so there is no need to pay an external fire safety company to visit and service each extinguisher whilst the vehicle is off the road. Even more cost savings for the fleet manager.
It works on all major classes of fires: A, B, C, F and Electrical (rated to 100,000v), this means that there is no dangerous gambling about which type of extinguisher to use for different fires. Plus, it’s totally safe for the user with no dangerous toxins emitted from it and it causes no damage to the environment in any way. So that ticks the box for potential company liabilities.
What is amazing, is that it leaves no damaging mess or residue. More often the damage from a fire extinguisher can be greater than from the initial fire itself. But not with the Fire Safety Stick, in fact, we have several examples of users having real vehicle fires around the engine, extinguishing it with ease using the Fire Safety Stick and once they have carried out necessary safety checks, have been able to continue with their journey, driving the car without the need for a very costly engine rebuild, a necessity had it been a powder extinguisher.
The way in which the active agent is dispersed means that it can easily reach all the hidden, hard-to-reach parts that a foam or powder extinguisher are unable to, thereby making it very effective. It is even possible to leave an activated stick within a confined space while the user escapes to safety (closing doors where possible) – the Fire Safety Stick will continue to discharge, repressing the fire in their absence.
Since the Fire Safety Stick is not pressurised at all and is very durable, it won’t be accidentally discharged within the vehicle, so there’s no risk of stock or equipment being damaged.
Some ask, what about electric vehicles? Well, as we all know, even for the fire brigade, there is little that can be done with the large lithium batteries onboard once thermal run-away starts. And to be fair this also applies to the Fire Safety Stick. However, it is important to remember that these EVs still have 12volt systems for all their non-drive components, in fact, it is these that are more likely to catch fire and of course, this is where the fire safety stick is still ideal to carry onboard.
So, as you can see, considerable cost savings for the business, light and compact for storage in the vehicle, and easier and safer to use. Longer lasting, works on more types of fires.
It’s little wonder that it is already been rolled out by many companies for their fleet vehicles across the country. These range from smaller, more local firms to large multinationals. In fact, it is even currently being introduced to several divisions of the emergency services across the UK. Plus, due to its many successes in dealing with vehicle fires within motorsports in recent years, it’s already being carried by the leading Formula One teams for their pit crews and paddock staff as they travel from country to country for each Grand Prix.
Of course, one should always remember, it’s all about catching the fire at its very earliest stages, if a fire has become well established and too large, then it is a job for the fire brigade and this applies not only to the Fire Safety Stick but with any fire extinguisher!