Fighting modern vehicle fires is more and more challenging as cars get lighter and more fuel efficient. Today’s cars represent multiple classes of fires: Class A (tires, fabrics, plastics), Class B (fuel), Class C (lithium-ion batteries in hybrid and electric cars) and Class D (magnesium, titanium, aluminum and lithium).
The firefighter must be very aware of the potential hazards and the complications addressing each of these components. You don’t want to approach a burning car with a foam or water. What kind of foam would you use? Does the car have gasoline or diesel fuel? Then, an AFFF would be appropriate, however, more than likely, the fuel is E10, an ethanol-blended fuel requiring the more expensive AR-AFFF. If you use plain water, you can extinguish it eventually, but if you are on a highway, are you carrying enough water? At 125 gpm, water tanks don’t last long. If fuel is leaking, the fuel is going to float away to the nearest sewer or stream on all the water you used. And be very careful approaching a fully involved car with foam or water due to the combustible metal components, like door frames, steering columns, seat frames and dashboards. These components can exceed 5,000ºF. Applying water or foam can cause a violent flare-up as the water molecules separate into explosive hydrogen and oxygen gas.
What is the answer? F-500 Encapsulator Agent. One agent can handle all of these fires and won’t explode when applied to Class D metals or lithium-ion batteries. A fully involved car fire normally takes 5-12 seconds to extinguish.