State Fire Marshal Offers Vehicle Fire Safety Tips

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | 10:57am

NASHVILLE – As warmer weather has Tennesseans on the move to springtime activities, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office wants to highlight important vehicle fire safety tips.

Cars can catch fire for many reasons. Mechanical or electrical issues are the most common cause according to the National Fire Protection Associations (NFPA), so regular vehicle maintenance is crucial to prevention car fires. 

“Most car fluids are flammable,” said Tennessee Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Heat and electrical sparks plus leaking fluid are all it takes to start a car fire.” 

To prevent vehicle fires:

  • Have your vehicles inspected at least annually by a trained, professional technician.
  • Watch for fluid leaks under vehicles; rapid changes in fuel and fluid levels and engine temperature; cracked or blistered hoses; or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or has cracked insulation. Have any of these conditions inspected and repaired as soon as possible.
  • Be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. A louder than usual exhaust tone, smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust could mean problems or damage to the high-temperature exhaust and emission control system on the vehicle. Have vehicles inspected and repaired as soon as possible if exhaust or emission control problems are suspected.
  • If you must transport gasoline, transport only a small amount in a certified gas can that is sealed. Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be transported in the passenger compartment.
  • Avoid smoking. If you must smoke, use your vehicle ashtray.
  • Never park a car where flammables, such as grass, are touching the catalytic converter.
  • Drive according to posted speed limits and other traffic rules. Remain alert to changing road conditions at all times. 

If a fire occurs:

  • Stop – If possible, pull to the side of the road and turn off the ignition. Pulling to the side makes it possible for everyone to get out of the vehicle safely. Turn off the ignition to shut off the electric current and stop the flow of gasoline. Put the vehicle in park or set the emergency brake; you don’t want the vehicle to move after you leave it. Keep the hood closed because more oxygen can make the fire larger.
  • Get Out – Make sure everyone gets out of the vehicle. Then move at least 100 feet away. Keep traffic in mind and keep everyone together. There is not only danger from the fire, but also from other vehicles moving in the area.
  • Call for Help – Call 9-1-1. Never return to the vehicle for belongings or to attempt to fight the fire yourself.