20 Feb 2014

Porsches and fires.

Fires in modern cars are thankfully reasonably rare occurrences but more prevalent in old cars including old Porsches.A Porsche provides an ideal environment for a fire with the engine down low and and all the ancillaries-carbs/fuel injection and hoses up above the hot engine and exhaust system.The sound insulation pads behind the engine and below the back shelf are ideal fire fuel.When my 1971 car was being bought back to life the Webers blew back and the pad under the back shelf caught fire luckily without any serious consequences.And then there is the old wiring ready to overheat and start a fire given the slightest opportunity.
To protect against fire I have always carried substantial dry powder fire extinguishers in both my cars.However a couple of weeks back I saw the photos of a (modern) Mini Cooper- owned by Jeff Damron's wife in the US -after it had been consumed by fire-see photos below.
When a fire starts in a car it can become very serious very quickly and if petrol is involved you need to kill the fire very rapidly.
Previously Craig Duthie and I had been discussing fitting more effective fire extinguishers to our cars and we have now fitted Halotron extinguishers.Halotron is a "friendly" relative of Halon which is a very effective fire extinguishing agent but which is a CFC and because of its high toxicity there are controls on the use of halon extinguishers in domestic environments in many countries including Australia.Halotron is not in this category but as it is an invisible and potentially chocking gas and it's best not to fit your extinguisher in the passenger footwell where it could be inadvertantly triggered and ensure that the safety pin is secure wherever you fit it and that you are well briefed on how to use the extinguisher as it would still be a disaster if you put out the fire but you killed yourself with the extinguisher whilst doing it.The extinguisher does come with instructions to avoid this outcome.
Seeing what had happened to Jeff's wife's Mini prompted me to get on and organise with Craig to move sooner rather than later to fit halotron extinguishers for our early cars.The extinguishers are not cheap -- about 5x the price of a dry powder extinguisher but it is cheap insurance.Losing an early Porsche to fire would be a disaster.
I have fitted my extinguisher to the grille above the gearbox control rod uj on the tunnel in front of the rear sets.The extinguisher bracket bolts neatly onto the grille and is easily accessible.

Halon on the left displaced dry powder on the right

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