• Janet Mary Houston
    28
    We have recently had placed (bracketed) fire extinguishers in all our leased vehicles - however we do not currently offer extinguisher training and several staff members have commented that they would be reluctant to use it even with training. Has anyone else had this issue and are there any suggestions? I would always prefer emergency services putting out any vehicle fires but some of our staff work in very rural areas. Should we even have fire extinguishers in our vehicles if we don't expect our staff to use them?
  • Steve H
    220
    Under the Portable Fire Equipment Standard NZS 4503:2005, if you provide extinguishers etc, you provide training in the safe and effective use of that equipment.
  • Andrew
    324
    This was asked some time ago and my response back then was "no" and since then I haven't seen anything to change my view

    We just need to step back to our risk management approach. If you are providing fire extinguishers then you are saying you expect a person to use them in a fire situation. I don't have that expectation. If there is a fire I expect our people to walk away, and stay clear. That's is what insurance is for.

    I know some will say "but what if you come across a burning car with a person in it." to which my general response to that is, the chance of that is extremely remote. (What are the chances of being on King Edward Street in Dunedin at 3.30am on a Saturday morning. Speed was involved and the driver crossed the centre line and collided with a truck. 1 minute later the car burst into flames. The truck driver did have an extinguisher and he tried in vain to put the fire out. It is likely the driver died on impact. The fire was so fierce the bodies were unrecognizable)

    For those that like data, there are about 290,000,000 cars in America. There's about 170,000 vehicle fires. And around 350 deaths. So roughly put 0.0001% of cars will have a fire related death. Fire injuries are about 0.0003% of vehicles

    Most people in burning cars in NZ are there because of suicide or murder.

    After then there is simply a moral question on how far a person will go to save another person. I prefer to step aside from deciding another's person's morals. I just don't expect people to endanger themselves.
  • Steve H
    220
    We just need to step back to our risk management approach. If you are providing fire extinguishers then you are saying you expect a person to use them in a fire situation. I don't have that expectation. If there is a fire I expect our people to walk away, and stay clear. That's is what insurance is for.Andrew

    Exactly Andrew, in another life I managed two different plastic recycling plants, insurance companies insisted that fire hoses be provided, totally redundant as toxic smoke that would be present in a fire and abundance of heavy current extruders and granulators would make any kind of fire fighting without training and breathing apparatus too dangerous to merit any kind of consideration
  • Benjamin Basevi
    0
    Hi Janet
    What was the risk assessment/decision that vehicles be provided with fire extinguishers in the first place i.e. is it an insurance policy requirement because all the vehicles are petrol-powered or the work that staff will be carrying out or something else? Who decided on the size/type of the extinguisher and what is its intended use i.e. leased vehicle or some other plant/machinery?
    As a lease choice, diesel fuel vehicles will generally have a lower risk of engine-related fires.
    What planning was put in place i.e. reason for issue, standard location in vehicle/s, size, extinguishing medium, who is responsible for checking them every year, what is the training requirement, has the vehicle safety policy been updated, is the bracket robust so extinguisher does not become a fast-moving object in a prang? If some staff state they would not use them it indicates that training of some sort is missing as there is a level of (anxiety)?
    Having said all that, a functional fire extinguisher in a vehicle may one day be very, very useful and is a pro-active safety measure. Rural work location is a good reason for fitting extra safety kit and if a person is competent to drive the vehicle, being able to make a safety assessment prior to then correctly operating a "pull pin and squeeze" fire extinguisher is not a biggy.
    Suggest also contact your local FENZ Fire Safety Officer or seek information online via the FENZ website. These people have the expertise and experience to offer sound advice.
  • Don Ramsay
    87
    It may as easy as that on customer sites you must have one fitted as is the case with our company and if it is not fitted you are not allowed on site. So in the long run it is a business choice and yes I do train my workers to use them.
  • Steve H
    220
    Having said all that, a functional fire extinguisher in a vehicle may one day be very, very useful and is a pro-active safety measure. Rural work location is a good reason for fitting extra safety kit and if a person is competent to drive the vehicle, being able to make a safety assessment prior to then correctly operating a "pull pin and squeeze" fire extinguisher is not a biggy.Benjamin Basevi

    How many vehicle fires have you successfully extinguished with the size of fire extinguisher fitted in the average car/van/ute Ben?

    My experiences in seeing a car on fire ahead of me, stopping and trying to stop it (along with other well meaning souls) is that it was a complete waste of time at best.

    These weren't my first rodeos, when you join the Navy, you do a basic firefighting/damage control course, each time you get promoted, you do another, plus workups, even did a maintainers course . Franchise I brought into, decided that servicing/selling fire extinguishers would be a terrific money making plan, another mini course (the kind that companies would send their staff on)

    As a consequence of my experience, I agree with Andrew, where fires are concerned, getting the flock out of Dodge is the best scheme
  • Andrew
    324
    Don. I'm baffled. Why would you expect cars coming onto your site to carry a fire extinguisher. Do you expect your guest to put out your fires? Do you have people at the gate inspecting the boot to check the extinguisher is up to scratch?

    Or are you going ont sites that insist you have one in your car if you visit. So you're going to put out their fires?. Geez. Not me. I see a fire I'd be high tailing it out of there.
  • Steve H
    220
    Why would you expect cars coming onto your site to carry a fire extinguisher.Andrew

    Not a problem carrying one, as part of the Franchise purchase, I had to buy one, spent it's entire service life in the box it came in, safely stored in a bin in the back of the van i used to run my test & tag business out of the back of. Used to have to show it to my Franchisor every year as a part of my compliance audit.

    If you are going to drag a fire extinguisher round, at least make it worthwhile, get a Dry Powder one, 5Kg Minimum with a wand. I'd carry a large fire blanket too - Be aware fire extinguishers should be checked by a competent person annually, arguably it might be prudent to do six monthly checks, they have a date of first fill stamped into them, as pressure vessels under NZS 4503:2005 they must have a pressure test every five years, cost generally means at this point they are taken out of service and a replacement purchased. .

    Better have a policy that vehicle drivers are not to wear any nylon or polyester clothes that might melt into the skin of wanabe flick the fire fighters, some PPE along the lines of flame retardant gloves and a hood/balaclava would be sensible, going onsite presumably your team would have boots/closed toe shoes
  • Steve H
    220
    Gee Steve, why do you think it's such a bad idea to leap in with the 1Kg or 2 Kg Fire Extinguisher that my boss had fitted to my car, if I see a vehicle on fire, or my company car catches fire while I'm driving it?

    Grass Hopper, I'm glad you asked:

    How to prep (for a vehicle fire)

    So how do fire chiefs prepare for such an event in their response area?

    First, firefighters must wear full PPE, including SCBA on all vehicle fires. Vehicles are built from many materials including steel, aluminum and composite resins. But they also contain plastics and synthetics that can off-gas cyanide and carcinogens as well as sulfuric acid, carbon nickel, copper, lithium or cobalt.

    Vehicle fires can also take an unexpected turn of events, whether a tire that explodes and destabilizes the vehicle, a ruptured fuel tank or the ignition of some exotic contents kept in the trunk. That’s why PPE and SCBA are always essential for firefighter safety.

    Next, while carefully approaching the vehicle, firefighters need to identify if it uses an alternative fuel or an electrified battery pack. Most manufacturers place an emblem on the trunk and sides that indicates if it is powered by fuel other than gasoline.

    Finding the emblem in the dark may be difficult. Tesla recommends the use of a thermal imaging camera to scan any electric vehicle to see if the battery is overheating or burning.
    Once identified, firefighters must size-up the emergency and establish priorities (rescue, extinguishment, extrication, patient care), immobilize the vehicle from any sudden movement and start handling the emergency according to the listed priorities.

    Remember that after the emergency, there may also be a need for overhaul that involves extremely hazardous materials, so this may take a prolonged time to safely mitigate.
    Robert Rielage

    In the case of EV fires in particular, but even in ICE vehicle fires, heat build up is rapid, Dry Powder Extinguishers work by effectively suppressing a fire by staving it of oxygen, but they do not provide any cooling. So really easy for the fire to reflash and get going again.

    Getting people out of the crashed vehicle and away from it, contacting FENZ and keeping well meaning (and not so well meaning) Lookie Lous and the social media set away, would be a better option.
  • Don Ramsay
    87
    Not us we carry them onto our customer sites as it is their site rules and short of not doing the work what would you suggest, and I will point out they are corporates....
  • Steve H
    220
    ot us we carry them onto our customer sites as it is their site rules and short of not doing the work what would you suggest, and I will point out they are corporates....Don Ramsay

    Hi Don
    Certainly they can require you to carry a fire extinguisher, but they can't require you (or your team) to try and fight a fire with them.

    Obliviously, if you were grinding a piece of metal, and a spark from that process ignited a fire in some adjacent rags, you would use an extinguisher to knock it down before it could spread. But if you were to rock up to one of their sites and find a vehicle well on fire, for the reasons I've outlined above, you would be very unwise to even approach the vehicle, much less try and put it out. The time would be better spent calling FENZ and getting them on the go, getting folk back from the fire and doing what you can to prevent it spreading..
  • Don Ramsay
    87
    They have them as we conduct hot work I and the company have no expectations that they are going to fight a fire beyond the first response approach to contain and in some cases get a clear path out. If something is well ablaze they are trained to not go near it and to call for help, it's only a company vehicle or property and not to put themselves at risk.
  • Steve H
    220
    Sounds good mate :smile: Thought that would be the case

    Some advice on Stuff What Should You Do If Your Car Catches On Fire

    More from Stuff on a Hybrid EV Involved In Highway Blaze On The Whagamoa and why do cars catch fire? Silly Car Question #51 Why Do Cars Catch Fire
  • Aaron Marshall
    77

    And that is all that HHFE is for. It is NOT to extinguish the fire, but to keep it contained/away from people to get people out of the way.
  • Mark Kenny-Beveridge
    36
    Have we not maybe overthought this?
    The fire extinguisher in a car is not intended to extinguish a well involved vehicle fire, but more so to extinguish a small fire if safe to do so.
    I think it is almost like saying lets not have first aid kits because they are not effective for heart surgery...when we all know, that is not the intent of them.

    To answer the original question, like others have mentioned/alluded to, you need to first answer why you have them in your vehicles? If not required by any group/client or not identified as part of a risk control, then they may not be required. If you do require them, then like any equipment I would say you need to ensure staff understand how to use them as well as the risks, limitations and expectations for using them.
  • Rowly Brown
    48
    Dry powder extinguisher contents compact due to vibration in the vehicle. Unless they are taken out and vigorously agitated for a few minutes regularly, at least fortnightly, they will not discharge significant amounts of extinguishant when operated. You would have more success using the extinguisher to beat out a fire, or perhaps use it as a blunt tool to access a vehicle to extract a person.
    Many years ago, as a Site Safe regional trainer I was given two 1 KG DP extinguishers as promotional and "image" material. On advice from the local Chief Fire Officer I tried the one that was in my vehicle. It expelled almost no powder. I then agitated for about 10 minutes the one that had been in my garage for several months. It gave a similar result with perhaps half a cup of powder expelled.
    Enough said!!
  • Steve H
    220
    Anywhere a Dry Powder FX is going to be mounted in a location subject to vibration, mounting them horizontally to prevent that compaction Rowly is a good idea.

    Each time the competent checker examines them, as a part of the process, they should be giving them a few gentle taps with a rubber mallet, along with weighing them to confirm they are still their initial charge weight. Along with confirming the FX is still holding pressure.
  • Greg Sutton
    3
    I asked the same question. Below response (I added CAPS to highlight ambiguity);

    "Fire extinguisher training is not a requirement in New Zealand, just as it is not a requirement to have any fire fighting equipment installed in a building (extinguishers, hose reels, fire blankets etc).

    However, Fire and Emergency recommends the use of fire extinguishers to ensure the safety of building occupants and employees. This is especially relevant for places where there is a higher risk of fire, such as:

    ⦁ cooking areas
    ⦁ certain manufacturing processes
    ⦁ welding
    ⦁ hot work.

    If you do have fire extinguishers on site then only staff who are trained to use them AND who feel comfortable doing so should. Training can be done in house by a suitably qualified staff member or be outsourced to a certified trainer. This is usually done annually, or as new staff are appointed.

    You DON'T need to be qualified to use a fire extinguisher, but as above, only occupants who are confident using them and can do so safely, should. Only use fire extinguishers when it is safe to do so, e.g. when the fire is no larger than a waste paper basket or pot on a stove. Always have a safe path of escape, and ensure Fire and Emergency has been called.

    Kind Regards,

    Name With-held
    Fire Information Unit

    National Risk Reduction Team
    P: 0800 347 346 

    www.fireandemergency.nz"
  • Greg Sutton
    3
    Further response regarding who may provide training...

    Answer - "Yes, that would be appropriate.  We cannot endorse any particular service provider but we would recommend that you use one who is a member of the Fire Protection Associate New Zealand: http://www.fpanz.org/

    Fire Information Unit
    National Risk Reduction Team"
      
    Question - "For in house training, could a 'suitably qualified' person be someone who has completed a fire fighting course covering classes of fires, types of fire extinguishers and method of extinguishing (I.E. PASS method) ?

     As a health & safety officer, I am keen to introduce practical training to help staff feel more confident and be more pro-active in dealing with work place risks.

    The site does not have water based hand appliances that could increase the risk when used on electrical fires."
  • Steve H
    220
    As a health & safety officer, I am keen to introduce practical training to help staff feel more confident and be more pro-active in dealing with work place risks.Greg Sutton

    That would be a good use of expired Fire Extingushers Greg, small ones (2kg or less) are not usually cost effective to empty, pressure test (good for five more years) and then refill. Bigger ones where it is economic to reuse are going to have to be emptied to inspect and perform pressure test, so may as well try them out before hand.

    Most of the training providers that do on-site training have an oil fire to fight and a solid fuel set up, probably not too had to set something up if you have suitable location(s)

    Under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018 FENZ can require building owners and/or their tenants to supply and maintain portable fire fighting equipment ( see clauses 14 & 15)
  • Aaron Marshall
    77
    Under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018 FENZ can require building owners and/or their tenants to supply and maintain portable fire fighting equipment ( see clauses 14 & 15)Steve H

    And a lot of it is also driven by the building's insurance company/sprinkler requirements, etc.
  • Mike Massaar
    70
    The original question is around fire extinguishers in vehicles. Generally we have removed them but allow Managers to install in special circumstances only (e.g. if flammables are being carried). Most of the advice you will see is not to attempt to extinguish a fire in a vehicle - first response is to remove yourself from the scene. You should never attempt to extinguish a fire inside an EV.
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