Vehicle fires, including those involving limousines, stretch limos and limo buses, are dangerous, fast-acting and frightening. And they happen more often than you might think. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 33 car fires are reported every hour in the United States. In 2007, (the last year with complete NFPA statistics), 258,000 vehicle fires caused 385 deaths, 1,675 injuries and cost $1.41 billion in damages. Thankfully, regular maintenance, safe driving and common sense can often help prevent a vehicle fire.
Causes And Effects
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) research shows that mechanical failure or design problems such as broken fuel lines, faulty catalytic converters, electrical failures, blown tires and overheating, cause 66% of vehicle fires and are the leading causes of vehicle injuries. USFA data also reveals that one in every four fire department responses is to a vehicle fire – more than the responses to residential properties. Electrical wiring and fuel are the leading forms of material ignited in vehicle fires and following a collision, fires are the leading cause of vehicle deaths.
What Are The Signs?
Under-inflated tires can overheat quickly. When you make routine stops, make it a habit to check the tire pressure, especially if a tire looks low on air. Worn brakes can overheat and cause a fire, so make sure they are checked on a regular basis. If a fuse keeps blowing, it may be a sign of electrical trouble, so have it looked at as soon as possible. Overloaded wiring, particularly in a heavy accessorized limousine, can also cause a fire. If you smell burning plastic or rubber while you’re driving, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so, turn off the engine and investigate the source. If you can’t determine what the trouble is, call for help.
Some Tips On What You Could Do
One of the best defenses against a vehicle fire is to be prepared. During your pre-trip inspection, check for any tell-tale leakage or electronic irregularities. Make sure the limousine you drive is well maintained, tuned up regularly in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and that your maintenance program meets all local, state and federal requirements. Mount a fire extinguisher in the passenger compartment for easy accessibility and check it regularly for proper operation. A fire extinguisher rated ABC for all types of fires is the best.
Make sure you are familiar with how to use the extinguisher should the need arise. One thing is certain: an emergency is not the time to start reading the instructions on how to use your fire extinguisher. Be sure to check local, state and federal regulations about fire extinguishers in limousines and follow them carefully. If you are faced with a vehicle fire while on the road, don’t panic. Signal and move off the road to a safe spot, shut off the engine, evacuate your passengers to a safe distance and call 911. Stay at least 150 feet away from any flames you see in the rear of the vehicle, especially near the gas tank. And know what your company policy is concerning your response to a vehicle fire.