Vehicle fires and firefighters

While some of these vehicle fires were the result of collisions, the majority were due to mechanical or electrical defects in cars

It might come as a surprise to learn the vast amount of vehicle fires that firefighters are called upon to respond to each year in the U.S. In the years surveyed from 2003 to 2007, the average number of vehicle fire emergency calls was 287,000 per year. This number resulted in 480 fatalities, 1,525 injuries and over $1 billion in property damage. These statistics translate to 31 vehicle fires per hour and more than one death per day.

While some of these vehicle fires were the result of collisions, the majority (75 percent) were due to mechanical or electrical defects in cars. The majority of auto fire fatalities were due to auto collisions or rollovers.

One-third of the injuries in vehicle fires occur when people attempt to extinguish the fire themselves. The safest way of handling an engine fire is to wait for the fire department to arrive and extinguish it. Do not attempt to open your hood if smoke or fire is emitting from it as the increased amount of oxygen can cause the fire to accelerate.

Pull over safely to the side of the road, put on your flashers and safely exit the vehicle with all passengers. Stand at least 100 feet away from the vehicle and call 911 for assistance. If smoke or fire is anywhere near the fuel tank, get as far away from the vehicle as possible in case of an explosion.

One way to prevent a vehicle fire is to routinely have your car tuned up. This will help to diagnose any potential fire hazards, such as a worn fuel line, leaking fluids, or worn or cracked wiring. Fuses that keep blowing can signal an electrical problem that could start a vehicle fire.

If you do smell smoke or rubber burning, always pull over as soon as possible and you might be able to prevent a vehicle fire before it starts. A noisy muffler, smoke emitting from your tailpipe or exhaust backfiring can also signal a fire hazard. Get your vehicle checked out by a mechanic so you don’t become another fire statistic.

Vehicle fires can be destructive and costly, and they’re usually not covered by the average insurance policy unless you have collision coverage.



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