Fire Danger Awareness
By Bob Sherman
Fire is arguably the greatest danger to the driver in motorsports. I’m sure many hill climb competitors have been thinking about that. Our cars run the whole gamut, from street-stock to fully kitted-out race cars. Although fire safety is important to all of us, the importance becomes greater the more the modifications on your car tend to move it to the race car extreme. There are several areas to consider.
Personal Protection Equipment: The SFI Foundation issues and administers standards for specialty/performance automotive & racing equipment. Ratings for SFI Rated Nomex suits are based upon seconds of protection from second degree burns in a raging gasoline fire that is 1,800 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Four levels of protection each level providing a range of three to nineteen seconds, hopefully time enough to allow the driver to get out of the vehicle. (What extra time do you think your everyday cotton pants and long sleeved shirt provide?) Note that you are just buying time. These are not “fireproof suits.” Other SFI rated personal protection equipment include gloves, shoes, and balaclavas.
Fire Suppression Systems: These are Halon or “Halatron 1” based. Per EPA, Halon cannot be manufactured since 1994, but recycled Halon may still be available and is the preferred choice. These gases interrupt the ingredients for a fire, to wit fuel, oxygen, and ignition. If you go to firebottleracing.com, there is a lot of information. You can fit the unit with nozzles at least routed to the driver’s leg area and carburetor/injector area of the motor. Another nozzle can be added to the fuel tank or fuel cell area. Discharge is generally by “push” or “pull.” You can bend the tubing or, for some routing, use braided lines. We have a local shop that makes really neat lines if you just tell them exactly what you require.
Fuel Delivery: Fuel cells, even available to utilize the tire well area in street cars, add more protection. The fill plate prevents leakage if the vehicle overturns (I know this works.) The bladder prevents fuel spill if there is a wreck. The foam keeps the bladder in shape and prevents “flash back” explosions. The container, which is what you see, holds all this together. This winter, I am adding more safety devices to my fuel delivery system. The car has two fuel pumps. There are devices wired into their power supply that, upon hard impact that jars the car, will cut the power to the fuel pumps. This is automatic.
Summary: This writing is not intended to get into all the technical information about the various fire protection measures available. There is plenty of info on the internet for further research. You may look at all the information on line and add up the bill. You may think, “Wow, I can’t afford that!” Maybe not all at once. Perhaps you could add one device each year? In not too long, you’ll have a lot of safety gear in place to help protect your life. It is worth a thought. There are some of us that are quite glad we were wearing our Hans-type devices when we crashed our cars. Now going a step further with our safety equipment, in terms of being pro-active with fire safety measures, might one day make you a much happier competitor.
- Membership cost is $10.00 for Jan 1 through Dec 31 of each year and is not prorated through out the year. We encourage early registration prior to race season to save you time and keep registration fluid at events.
- You won’t leave the starting line if you are not a member.
- You won’t leave the starting line if don’t have your dated NHA sticker placed on both sides of your car.
- NHA Insurance dictates no consumption of alcohol in any area insured by NHA at hillclimb event site.
- Non-insured and non-registered race cars are only allowed on roadway to access the hillclimb course during their run group.