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Fire extinguisher for EV

  • 05-05-2023 11:41pm
    Registered Users Posts: 18,943 ✭✭✭✭

    I've a few old powder fire extinguishers that I've no idea how old they are so need to get a new one. I know a handheld fire extinguisher won't put out a battery fire if it gets going but it could stop it getting going. Are powder extinguishers best for EVs or is there something better?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,632 ✭✭✭zg3409

    Learn where the main battery disconnect is in your EV. It's often in the paper manual. Unplugging this might prevent a fire in event of a very bad crash.

    If the main battery is starting to overheat due to a crash it's a slow smokey process and you will probably have lots of time to exit the vehicle compared to equivalent petrol fire.

    Powder is handy to have just in case wiring goes up, but they often are so small they do hardly anything. As part of an office fire fighting course we used fire extinguishers and we were trained to collect a dozen office sized units to tackle even a small equipment fire.

    Having the special knives to cut seat belts might be the real escape tool you need in event of a real life and death incident.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    It will make no difference.

    It will not stop a battery fire commencing if that’s the chain of events in play.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,943 ✭✭✭✭Del2005

    I know where the main disconnect is and I know that it'll be a slower burn than a potential petrol fire. Guess I'll just get a new powder extinguisher.

    In a place I worked we where though fire fighting and it was the opposite of yours. We could only attack small fires and use 2 fire extinguishers, if they didn't work we had to leave it for the fire brigade.

    I've a knife for seat belts on my sun visor and have to try to figure out where to put one of the glass hammers in the car so I can reach it in an emergency but not kill me in a crash, there's feck all lockable storage near the drivers seat.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,251 ✭✭✭jackofalltrades

    Realistically all you're going to put out with one small fire extinguisher is a small fire in the cabin, if you catch it when it starts.

    One thing to remember with a power fire extinguisher is that you need to regularly shake them.

    Otherwise when you go to use them the powder will have settled and you'll end up with nothing, nothing and then a powder explosion.

    You don't get long with these handheld extinguishers either and you need to use some of it to protect you while you retreat from the fire.

    As someone with a bit of firefighter training, my advice is to get yourself and your family out and walk away from it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,104 ✭✭✭joe1303l

    Diverting your fire extinguisher fund towards a good insurance policy might be a better option.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 728 ✭✭✭Timfy

    If your EV battery starts to burn, forget fire extinguishers and retreat to a safe distance. Although in most cases Lithium battery fires are slow motion events, almost impossible to extinguish and can burn for literally weeks, sometimes they can, and do, go up in spectacular fashion.

    No trees were harmed in the posting of this message, however a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    So let’s say there’s a fire in the cabin?

    Where is the extinguisher securely stored?

    can the driver reach it?

    if so, the sudden Burst of powder removing the oxygen from the cabin is more dangerous that the fire that’s beginning.

    Get out, stay out and get the fire brigade out.

    Post edited by Gumbo on

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    Where are you going to secure this extinguisher? It will be a missile in the event of a crash and will kill someone quicker than the crash may have.

    You want lockable storage but yet in an emergency every second counts and you want to spend time trying to open lockable storage to spray a powder extinguisher in a cabin instead of getting out, possibly getting kids out etc

    Madness Ted.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,196 ✭✭✭blackbox

    If you're serious about this you want to get a built in system like they have in rally cars that is activated by a button.

    If not, don't bother. Just get out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,664 ✭✭✭creedp

    In 30 years of car ownership I've never put a fire entinguisher in a car and, given that I'm led to believe that ICEs are far more likely to burst into flames, that's a practice I'm going to maintain with EVs

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo


    I think it’s scaremongering talk or pub talk where someone’s friends said you need one!

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,251 ✭✭✭jackofalltrades

    I don't know why you're throwing all these questions at me.

    I've also no idea what "sudden Burt of power removing the oxygen from the cabin" means.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,451 ✭✭✭The Continental Op

    I've a knife for seat belts on my sun visor and have to try to figure out where to put one of the glass hammers in the car so I can reach it in an emergency but not kill me in a crash, there's feck all lockable storage near the drivers seat.

    I picked up a Leatherman Z-Rex Life hammer a few years back and its sat in the strap of my sun visor ever since. Only problem is I can't find anyone thats currently selling it but there must be another slim design like that which can slip behind a sun visor.

    Seems a decent tool and takes up little room.

    Gerber make a similar tool that would also easily stow away ready for use in an emergency but think I prefer the Leatherman myself.

    Wake me up when it's all over.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    I quoted you as you stated a small powder extinguisher would be good for putting out a cabin fire.

    My opinion is that it would be useless. The sudden burst of powder coming from the extinguisher removes heat alright but they will engulf the cabin very quickly removing visibility and leaving toxic fumes.

    My opinion is that you would not even use one for a small cabin fire.

    But that’s just me. That’s why I quoted you.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,228 ✭✭✭ratracer

    Why does anyone feel they need any of that stuff in a car?

    Marketing really is a powerful tool!!

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 12,683 Mod ✭✭✭✭riffmongous

    Well fire extinguishers are compulsory in many countries in Europe (mostly eastern europe), first aid kits and reflecting jackets too

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,228 ✭✭✭ratracer

    The first aid kits and hi-viz are sensible items, that are usually stowed in the boot and are practical.

    A small dry powder extinguisher is useless in a vehicle fire and are not mandatory here. The seatbelt cutter is not usually necessary to open a seatbelt, and the glass breaker is more likely to lead to injury from broken glass when used without proper gloves for the user and glass protection for any casualty.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,251 ✭✭✭jackofalltrades

    My comment was more in the context of dissuading the OP from trying to fight a battery fire with one, as it would be a waste of time.

    And my comment on putting out a cabin fire was quite specific in that I mentioned a small fire at it's beginning.

    Which a powder extinguisher should be capable of putting out.

    Powder extinguishers don't remove heat or oxygen and are considered non-toxic.

    If you fight a small cabin fire from outside the car you shouldn't have huge issues with visibility or your breathing.

    Let of the extinguisher and close the door behind you, the remaining cloud should buy you some time, until proper help comes, if needed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,451 ✭✭✭The Continental Op

    Yep, and kept looking which is why I said I'm not sure its available any more. Seems that it designed as a professional first responders tool and has been replaced by the Leatherman Raptor. Another first responders tool that is built around scissors but also has the glass smasher. I didn't initially suggest it as its way expensive plus you don't really need the scissors if you aren't a first responder.

    On price (£25) I think these are a good deal with some decent reviews, should just fit behind a sun visor although but might be a little too thick?

    My BiL has been first on the scene of two accidents and had to cut the seat belt of a guy in a burning car and smash a window to get another out. I'd like to think I could provide help if someone needed it in a hurry.

    Edit> Yet another seat belt cutter window smasher option for the sun visor.

    Wake me up when it's all over.

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    That’s fair enough but ABC foam is typically used for cars on a local/personal level as it can withstand some lower temps.

    It costs the fuel blocking it from the oxygen, but it does come with its cons as it will aggravate respiratory conditions when discharged and removes visibility and it’s why it should never be used in stair cores or escape routes in buildings.

    In this thread context we are talking about people keeping extinguishers in the cabin of cars which is ludicrous IMO.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,589 ✭✭✭SouthWesterly

    The last thing anyone should be using is a powder extinguisher anywhere .

    It gets everywhere and the clean up is ridiculous.

    Add powder to a fire in an enclosed space and you're asking for trouble.

    Get a CO2 extinguisher. It puts everything out without leaving a mess and causing a health hazard breathing it in.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

    Powder also damages small wires, chips etc It’s a fine film and very messy to clean up as it’s gets into every surface, hidden and visible.

    CO2 removes the oxygen from the area so very dangerous in small confined spaces

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,402 ✭✭✭JohnC.

    Don't fire extinguishers need to be serviced, if that's the right word, or they could become ineffective?

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,732 Mod ✭✭✭✭Gumbo

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,251 ✭✭✭jackofalltrades

    Using a CO2 extinguisher in an enclosed space runs the serious risk of asphyxiation.

    Also CO2 can spread the fire by blowing flammable materials around.

    Put out the fire first, worry about clean-up later.

    Powder getting everywhere is one of it's main advantages. Everywhere is covered so you've less chance of reignition.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,589 ✭✭✭SouthWesterly

    Do you honestly think breathing In a mix of fine powder in a smoke filled space which also has limited visibility is any better?

  • Registered Users Posts: 731 ✭✭✭murphthesmurf

    You don't sit in the car while you're putting it out. You stand outside the vehicle spraying in through the door. CO2 in this situation is no use, it will disperse in the atmosphere too much. Powder is the most effective fire extinguisher available to you for a car fire.

    As for EV fire, forget it unless it's a fire in the interior. The battery is housed incased in the vehicle, no extinguisher can get at it. It cannot be put out no matter how small.

    For petrol or diesel cars a 2kg powder secured properly could put out a small engine fire. Many years ago a friend and I were in a Fiesta XR2 heading to the seaside in UK. We pulled off into services, as we slowed down the car filled with smoke. We pulled up, he popped the bonnet and I took a look. The engine at exhaust manifold was on fire and getting worse. We put the fire out with a can of Vimto!

    It was caused by a blocked crank case breather pipe. It had filled air intake with oil and dripped onto manifold. We cleaned it all out and continued on our way with a bottle of Evian water in case it caught fire again. We were young and stupid, but it worked.