Nearly one out of seven fires involves vehicles, according to the U.S. Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Association.
The dangers of vehicle fires are often overlooked. But each year on average, vehicle fires kill more than 300 American civilians and injure 1,250 more.
The possibility of flames causing burns isn’t the only concern. Toxic gases and other hazardous substances, along with flying debris and explosions, can combine to pose serious health threats. Additionally, alternative-fuel vehicles can create special hazards.
The best way for fleet drivers to prevent vehicle fires is to make regular vehicle maintenance a priority. Most vehicle fires are caused by problems related to the electrical or fuel system.
But what should fleet drivers do in the event of a vehicle fire?
If the vehicle is in operation, the driver needs to signal, immediately move off the road to a safe place to stop, park the vehicle, turn off the ignition, and get out.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers these tips:
- Get yourself and all others out of and away from the vehicle. If the vehicle is in a garage or other structure, exit immediately.
- After you are a safe distance from the vehicle, call the fire department at 911 or the local emergency telephone number. Tell them the location of the fire.
- Remain away from the vehicle; do not attempt to get back into a burning vehicle to retrieve personal property.
- If you choose to use a fire extinguisher, only do so from a safe distance and always have a means to get away.
- Use a fire extinguisher approved for use on class B and class C fires.
- Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire under it. Air could rush in, enlarging the fire and leading to injury.
To watch a video about vehicle fire prevention and response, click on the photo or link below the headline.