Preventing Vehicle Fires

Vehicle fires can be deadly. And although it is important to know what to do in the event of this emergency, prevention is also a key component to ensure your safety.

Vehicle fires can break down for many reasons. Smoking, overheated tires, dragging breaks, faulty wiring or exhaust system failures are just some of the causes of vehicle fires. It’s important to exercise the following prevention techniques to ensure your safety.

As a professional driver, you need to be familiar with the potential risk of fire, how to reduce those risks and what to do in an emergency. When a fire starts in your vehicle and you are carrying cargo, immediately evacuate, call emergency personnel, clear the area and alert other motorists.

Smoking

  • Never smoke while transporting hazardous materials. Even if you are not carrying this type of load, it is wise to avoid smoking.
  • If you are going to smoke, put out your cigarette or cigar in the ashtray instead of throwing it out the window.
  • Exercise caution when disposing of ashes, butts and matches. 

Brake System

  • Stop your vehicle and notify your supervisor if the vehicle is not coasting freely. Dragging the brakes may ignite a fire. 
  • Report any suspected alignment and wheel bearing damage. 

Exhaust System

  • Check your exhaust system monthly. A small hole in the system is dangerous, as hot gases can combine with accumulated grease and oil and cause a fire. 

Wiring

  • Conduct monthly inspections of all battery cables. This includes looking for: 
    • Frayed cables
    • Missing cable tie-downs
    • Missing grommets
    • Buildup of grease and dirt

If your vehicle is equipped with a battery disconnect switch, it is required that you enable the switch any time your vehicle is in park.

Tires

Check tire pressure before and after each trip. If your tires are under-inflated, the casing of the tire tends to bend and move as you drive. This friction causes the tires to get very hot, and can cause a fire.

In the Event of a Vehicle Fire

In the event that a fire does occur while you are driving, stop the vehicle immediately as far off the road as possible and get out. Do your best to stop the vehicle in an open area away from buildings, trees or other vehicles. Call emergency personnel and do your best to stop traffic at least 2,000 feet around your vehicle.

If the fire is located in your tires, douse them with water, your dry chemical extinguisher or dirt. Every truck is required to carry a fire extinguisher. Familiarize yourself with its location and how to use it.

If the fire is located in the engine, use your dry chemical extinguisher but do not open the hood. Lifting the hood will fuel the fire with additional oxygen. If the fire is out of control, do not attempt to do this. Get away from the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.

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With 12,000+ members, Truckers Service Association (TSA) knows what truckers need. Founded in 1995, TSA is a non-profit association dedicated to improving the profitability of owner operators and Motor Carriers. Insurance marketing provided by TrueNorth Companies.

TSA Insurance Customer Service Center:

500 1st St SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

(877) 968-8785

(319) 896-4720

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PO Box 92777 Southlake, Texas 76092