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#217090 - 02/15/11 02:01 AM Car Fire Extinguisher
Bingley Offline

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1384
Another update in my quest for the serviceable emergency car kit--

I got the Kidde Auto Fire Extinguisher Model FX5 II, which is UL-rated for 5-B:C (the letters indicate fire types, and I think 5 refers to the maximum size of the fire it can handle in square footage). This is a dry chemical extinguisher, and the ingredient list reads: sodium bicarbonate, mica, calcium stearate [-- and this is where it gets weird--] nuisance dust, irritant, HMIS 1-0-0. I assume the last three items are a list of the potential toxic stuff. (I know HMIS stands for Hazardous Material Identification System.) The extinguisher contains 2 lbs of chemicals. The product page at the manufacturer's website is here.

My concerns are threefold:
  • 1. Will the chemical destroy my car? Internet sources seem to indicate that, unlike ammonium phosphate (for ABC-type fires), sodium bicarbonate does not corrode metal, but then I noticed that the fancier car fire extinguishers use halation, which I assume has some sort of advantage. Since the extinguisher is for a ten-year-old car, I do have to calculate: better to take the insurance money & let the car burn, or to try to put out the fire? If the chemical will eat through the electrical wires, it doesn't make sense to carry the extinguisher.
  • 2. The mounting bracket is made of flimsy plastic, and I think I can snap it between my fingers if I want to. (I'm no Superman, in case you're wondering.) The manufacturer says it's UL approved. I wrote them to find out whether they make a sturdier bracket, but they have not replied. It would be a nightmare to get into an accident with a cannonball of a fire extinguisher loose in the car.
  • 3. Where to mount the extinguisher in the car?

Thanks again.

Da Bing

#217105 - 02/15/11 03:17 AM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Bingley]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6489
Loc: southern Cal
I would not assume that halon is inherently better than a plain old dry chemical extinguisher. Halon is an inert gas which extinguishes by displacing oxygen. It works best in an enclosed space, which is not always guaranteed in an auto fire. I suspect that the advantage is that the seller gets a better profit for the halon vs dry chem.

Frankly, I am not convinced that either is critical.
Geezer in Chief

#217107 - 02/15/11 03:43 AM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Bingley]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2690
Loc: Alberta, Canada
A 2-lb extinguisher is gone in no time, so that makes the decision pretty easy. IMO, if it's a smolder or a flame no bigger than your two hands, you'll attack it and then stand back. If it's any larger, you'll grab anything you can't live without and stand well back.

#217108 - 02/15/11 03:59 AM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Bingley]
MarkO Offline

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 137
Loc: Oregon
If my car goes on fire, I'm getting out, making sure the fire is well engaged and then I'll call the FD.

I want no part of fighting a car fire with an extinguisher (and I say that as someone who has been lucky enough to take Fire Extinguisher training from Firefighters) and I want no part of a fire damaged car.

#217111 - 02/15/11 08:09 AM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Bingley]
ducktapeguy Offline

Registered: 03/28/06
Posts: 358
I've had to use fire extinguishers twice, and both times it feels like you're using a water pistol to put out a campfire.

I posted my most recent experience here


Personally, I'd get a bigger extinguisher. Unless you're the one who started the fire, by the time you get to it it'll be too much to handle for a 2lb extinguisher. Even a 5lb one won't do much. They're great to be able to get people out of danger, but after that you'll just be watching your car burn because they don't last long. I just went out and bought a 20lb air pressurized water and plan on adding some of this stuff
I think there are other similar products that do the same thing. One of the things I found out recently was the dry chemical ones do not work well on flammable liquids. You can spray all you want and the flames will blow away, but as soon as you stop spraying the flames come right back (unless you're able to extinguish the entire fire).

As for your questions, this is my opinion.

1) It probably will damage your car. However, if your car is on fire this will be the least of your concern. You can always clean off the powder later, you can't clean burned items. Halon/Halotron may be better for sensitive electrical items, but are you willing to spend $200-$400+, and would you be willing to use it on someone else's car? The two times I've used an extinguisher have been for other people's property, and at least with a cheap extinguisher I don't even hesitate to use it. If i had a Halon one I'd probably use it, but the cost would hurt a lot more to replace it compared to a $10 one.

2) I wouldn't rely on a plastic bracket to hold it, they're basically designed to hold it on a wall. They make metal brackets which are better, but still meant for wall mount. I'm working on making a mount for mine which will use this basic idea.


3) What kind of car? I used to have one mounted on my roll bar with a metal bracket, but that was the one I used up last month. In a SUV or wagon I have it under the seat, I haven't mounted it yet.

I'm not a firefighter so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Even the biggest extinguisher isn't going to put out a fully involved car fire, leave that to the fire department. But the worst feeling is seeing a fire start out small and not being able to do anything to prevent it from getting bigger and bigger.

#217114 - 02/15/11 12:54 PM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: ducktapeguy]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1511
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
I've used one (3lb 1A 10BC rated dry chemical)twice...once on a student's car where overheated brake had ignited a tire and he had already expended one bottle... just managed to put it out... second was on my Bronco II..seized bearing had ignited the alternator, used one bottle but extinguished only after disconnecting battery cable...carry under driver's seat of the Explorer

Edited by LesSnyder (02/15/11 12:54 PM)

#217122 - 02/15/11 02:51 PM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Bingley]
fooman Offline

Registered: 05/15/08
Posts: 78
I'm currently using the QuikFist Clamps for 4kg fire extinguisher, hilift jack, hoe, maglite and jerry can in my truck. I'm very happy with the mounts except for the jerry can which doesn't fit as snugly as I'd like but that could because of spacing.

#217134 - 02/15/11 05:05 PM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Bingley]
TeacherRO Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2301
Carry it in the back, strapped in.

I got to use an extinguisher once - it worked really well. I recommend the training as lots of adrenaline is involved.

#217192 - 02/16/11 01:50 PM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Bingley]
Tyber Offline

Registered: 04/27/09
Posts: 292
Loc: ST. Paul MN
If you carry a fire extinguisher in your car, the first thing to do after ensuring that it is for auto's is to be sure that it is strapped down properly!

Having a high pressure tube flying around the car in the case of an accident or a sharp turn, is not a good thing.

I remember seeing a Tractor pull where one of the safety officials had one of the new Halon Fire Extinguisher's. That night the tractor that leveled and smoothed the track caught on fire no less then 4 times. That Halon extinguisher put it out FAST every time, and that was just a little Extinguisher that he had on his hip.

If you can afford Halon, I would go that direction. If you can't, the dry chemicals are great,, till the fire department shows up and soaks the car and now you have caked and hardened dry chemicals.

Personally, my reason for saving my car is not saving the car, but rather saving the gear in the car. In the case of an emergency if you load up your car with all your necessary gear and then are stuck in traffic and your car catches on fire due to the long idle time, and some dripping oil or some flammable fluid, then you want to save the gear in the car and less the car itself. My thoughts on putting out an auto fire is less the car, and more the gear and hopefully tending to the car to get to safety.

Edited by Tyber (02/16/11 01:54 PM)

#217316 - 02/17/11 06:36 AM Re: Car Fire Extinguisher [Re: Tyber]
Mark_M Offline

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 295
Loc: New Jersey
I've had to use fire extinguishers on several occasions, though fortunately never on my own vehicle. An oily or gasoline-driven engine fire can overwhelm a 2.5Lb fire extinguisher, which is one of the reasons why I now carry two extinguishers in the Jeep. The best location is within easy reach of the driver's seat. On some vehicles (such as my Jeep) you have room to attach a bracket to the outside of the base of the driver's seat. In other cases you can either mount the bracket through the floor or, using a mount like shown to the right, to the seat bolts in front of the seat. I've also seen home-made versions of this made of angle stock and flat plate, either welded, riveted or bolted together.

I have one extinguisher mounted on the side of my driver's seat and the other on the tailgate.

A plastic bracket in a vehicle is a disaster waiting to happen, and I can't understand how manufacturer's can be allowed to sell fire extinguishers labeled for vehicle use that rely on a plastic mount. Metal brackets are available separately in a variety of configurations. Search with Google Shopping for "Metal Fire Extinguisher Bracket" or "Quick Release Fire Extinguisher Bracket" and you'll find options from $6 to over $200.

I've never used Halon/Halotron on a vehicle. I have seen it used in a computer room. The benefit of Halon/Halotron is no residue, but I've been lead to believe it is not as effective outdoors as it is in an enclosed space. It's also expensive, around $200+ for a 2.5Lb canister.
2010 Jeep JKU Rubicon | 35" KM2 & 4" Lift | Skids | Winch | Recovery Gear | More ...
'13 Wheeling: 8 Camping: 6 | "The trail was rated 5+ and our rigs were -1" -Evan@LIORClub

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