Nik Berg, himself a classic car enthusiast, owning a Series 3 Lotus Esprit, was chatting with his neighbour, admiring the neighbour’s ’59 Corvette. During the conversation, the owner of the Corvette mentioned about having some starting issues.
Then, whilst trying to turn the engine over, they both saw black smoke emerging from the car. Next thing, there were flames starting to escape from the engine bay vents.
Fortunately, Nik was quick thinking and told his neighbour to release, but NOT open the bonnet. Luckily, the neighbour followed those instructions and didn’t open it straight away. Meanwhile, Nik rushed to get his Fire Safety Stick.
Nik had only recently bought his Fire Safety Stick following another conversation, with a fellow Lotus owner, whilst they were both visiting a Scramble event at Bicester Heritage Centre, one of the regular, well-attended classic car meets. His friend had recommended Nik should carry one in his Esprit, as he had seen the many reports of the effectiveness of the Fire Safety Stick, in particular saving classic cars from fire. “It was recommended that I bought one, but I really didn’t expect I would need it so soon, it was still in the box!” Nik told the team at Fire Safety Stick.
Meanwhile, back to the burning Corvette, Nik, quickly grabbed his Fire Safety Stick, read the simple 4 steps to using it, and had it activated within seconds. He started to spray the low-pressure vapour into the slight opening of the unlatched bonnet, thereby suppressing the fire sufficiently to then allow the safe, controlled raising of the bonnet to gain full access. It is this method that prevents excessive oxygen from feeding the fire. As a result, the fire was quickly under control and soon extinguished within the over 50-second discharge time of the FSS50 model. They used the long discharge time to ensure the fire was completely out with no small flames left to burn with hidden areas around the carburettor and engine.
What was just as impressive to Nik and more importantly his neighbour, was that no mess was created by the discharge of the extinguisher. It is well known that, although they can be effective in extinguishing fires, dry powder extinguishers will cause more damage to the engine and its components than the fire itself. Typically, this could require an extensive and costly rebuild, running into thousands. This is completely avoided with the Fire Safety Stick and in fact, in this particular case, once the minor fire damage had been repaired, the classic ’59 Corvette’s engine would roar again.
Nik’s love of classic cars is not just a hobby, since as well as being a founder of Detour Productions and Detour Road Trips (www.detour-roadtrips.com), he is also an award-winning motoring journalist and European Correspondent for Hagerty (www.hagerty.com) worldwide renowned classic car insurance and media producers.
How to tackle an engine fire in a car
If ever you are faced with an engine fire, your initial reaction could be to open the bonnet to get easy access and direct to the fire to try and extinguish it. However, it is imperative not to do this. The effect of immediately opening the bonnet is likely to allow a rush of oxygen to the fire and in doing so, will increase its ferocity.
Instead, if the fire is still in its early stages, and is safe to tackle, unlatch the bonnet, remember don’t open it yet. Start to use the discharge from the Fire Safety Stick, just within the narrow gap of the unlatched bonnet. This will allow it to begin suppressing the fire within the engine bay, thereby significantly reducing the risks. When it is safe to do so, we recommend having your back to the bonnet, thereby protecting your face from potential burns or possible shock from the heat, raising it with one hand, while the other hand is holding the Fire Safety Stick, spraying the extinguishing vapour into the engine bay. This method reduces the risk of the fire flaring up with the ingress of oxygen. Then, use the complete and long discharge time to ensure that the fire is completely out, its vapour will quickly travel to all the hard-to-reach, obscured places around the engine to react with the oxygen around the flames and thereby extinguishing it.