Why so many truck fires?

jcorsico

Well-Known Member
In the last ~2 years, I can think of the following. There probably have been more. Why so many?

1) Levi's truck just burned to ground at V2R

2) McMillin truck burned to ground at Baja 1000

3) Herbst truck caught fire at Baja 1000, but was put out before significant damage

4) Lawrence Equipment truck caught fire at Rage at the River

5) Whipple(?) 6100 burned at a BITD event (i think)
 

MTPyle

Well-Known Member
I was thinking the same thing when I rolled by the Levis truck melted to the ground. Seems like a lot lately for sure.

For us it was Trans fluid on the header wrap, caused by us adding fluid and spilling it on the headers.

I think Levis was gear oil (bad seal) or brake fluid (broke line) on the rear brakes.

Not sure what happened to McMillin truck, I did not hear a rumor so they either decided to keep it secrete or they don't know.

The Herbst truck was raw fuel out the exhaust from speed zone mode setting. It was cutting spark but not fuel. (again thats what I heard)

I think Lawrence truck was exhaust on door panel. (just what I heard)

these are all the rumors I heard, I have no direct knowledge of any of them but my own fire.


All of these are different and random. So I am not sure there is a pattern or common connection. I think there is a lot that can go wrong on a desert race truck. The heat and open systems give many ways to have fire.

The good news in all cases the occupants got out fast and safe. I think the fire safety aspect of our sport is the best it's been.


Mike
 

ndvalium

Rescue Director
On average (unless you include Laughlin) my team will deal with at least 1 or 2 large fires per year on vehicles while they are racing. Not including numerous pit fires. Fortunately the majority of pit fires are dealt with much more aggressively and prepared for with increased safety standards and people watching themselves and their neighbors in fuel situations.

The truck/ vehicle fires we have seen are getting more challenging because of what people are building. Now we have fuel cells over 100 gallons. We have carbon fiber bodies that once they light, you waste a lot of water, foam or chemical to put out. We have massive tires that people run on flat for extended periods and generate lots of heat. When a tire catches fire it will take a full extinguisher to get it under control and then often have to bury it. We have magnesium and titanium parts in vehicles that once lights is very challenging to put out.

All of my teams are carrying several foam extinguishers loaded with FireAde and we have the ability to fill at events in case we use them on one fire. We also have two trucks with 60 gallons of foam ready to go. It still isn’t enough.

we are planning to add a couple skid units for fire suppression and more water/foam capability. Not only for the vehicles, but the potential of resource exposure. They also will base at pits where people are fueling and be an extra resource there. Our goal was to glhave our forst truck this year ready but Covid cancelled half our events for 2020 and we took a hit as every business has. So hopefully 2021 will be better and we will start increasing our fire fighting capabilities.

I say not including Laughlin because Laughlin is an anomaly in off road. When it gets wet, Laughlin routinely gets so slick that cars run high rpm’s with little to no traction. About 10 years ago at a SCORE Race we had 16 transmission fires in 2 days. It rained all weekend. It was an absolute pain in the ass and used nearly every extinguisher we brought to the party.

I will tell you in the Levi’s truck, I spoke with Ryan the other day. Their exterior extinguisher was located directly above the fire and therefore unreachable. Several people stopped and offered extinguishers and then there is Adam Householder that gave them extinguishers and then did doughnuts trying to bury the truck! Sometimes it take creativity!
 

51rcr

Well-Known Member
A IBC tote and a trash pump sure is cheap and works good. We keep one in the back of a pickup full and when we hay its got 2 totes in it. Cheap way to set up volunteers and take a few set ups to hand out easily with one rig. Really only have to worry about the pump and hoses to hand out. Most can find a free tote close to them. Common equipment so more places could offer a significant discount also.
 

Robin Hood

Well-Known Member
The truck/ vehicle fires we have seen are getting more challenging because of what people are building. Now we have fuel cells over 100 gallons. We have carbon fiber bodies that once they light, you waste a lot of water, foam or chemical to put out. We have massive tires that people run on flat for extended periods and generate lots of heat. When a tire catches fire it will take a full extinguisher to get it under control and then often have to bury it. We have magnesium and titanium parts in vehicles that once lights is very challenging to put out.
If certain componants, i.e. carbon fiber, larger fuel cells, etc. are creating more problems for containment, then why not put some restrictions in place before it gets out of hand?
 

jon coleman

Well-Known Member
If certain componants, i.e. carbon fiber, larger fuel cells, etc. are creating more problems for containment, then why not put some restrictions in place before it gets out of hand?
more redundant fire suppression, ie ' fire sprinkler' heat activated aaaf, i think like NdV said modern stuff burns brite, then what to use to put it out?, water?, aaaf? co2 ,halon?, some stuff you toss water on and you got Big problems.also train a little bit with team and get familiar with extinguishers& proper techniques on there use, nothing worse than watching a car burn and a well meaning corner worker has a dry powder ext.s nozzle Right in the fire drawing in fresh oxygen right behind powder stream,,,, arrrrg!
 

jcorsico

Well-Known Member
Carbon fiber itself isn't flammable. At most, the carbon will smolder. But it won't sustain an open flame. The FAA did a lot of testing on this, when Boeing started with the 787 (which is a carbon fuselage).

The epoxy encapsulating the carbon is more flammable than the carbon itself. But fiberglass has the same issue.
 

MTPyle

Well-Known Member
If I remember right Bryce's truck also caught fire at qualifying at Apex for one of the races, I think it was last years Mint400

We just watched the RST Brands TT catch fire this last weekend at the BOR race in the pits. They were welding a PS pump. They got it out fast which was good.

Mike
 

jon coleman

Well-Known Member
And when fiberglass( carbonfiber too?) lites off, Tonnes of crap/ fibers in the smoke, some idiot years ago lit an old boat& trailor on fire at competition hill , Glammis on Sat night, there was no wind & it just started settling on everything!, idiot
 

McCredie A

Well-Known Member
And when fiberglass( carbonfiber too?) lites off, Tonnes of crap/ fibers in the smoke, some idiot years ago lit an old boat& trailor on fire at competition hill , Glammis on Sat night, there was no wind & it just started settling on everything!, idiot
Jon, why did you lite the boat on fire?
 

Jerry Zaiden

Well-Known Member
One of the things that I wonder is what bodies are on the trucks burning? I wonder what resins are being used in different bodies.
 

ACME

Well-Known Member
If certain componants, i.e. carbon fiber, larger fuel cells, etc. are creating more problems for containment, then why not put some restrictions in place before it gets out of hand?
Great question: It seems the answer lies in the word "Unlimited" as no one ever wants to tweak the "Unlimited" guys or builders, so any convos that mention limiting anything like; tire size, materials, fuel capacity, fueling systems or racing blind are all taboo.

The non pit related fires in these cars do not seem to have a common cause (like there was when the LS motor fuel rails failed when they were the new rage or the C1 trans seals which seemed like common ignition points for a number of fires in the past). So limiting the fuel cell size from 80/100 to 50 gallons wouldn't change anything other than the intensity and duration once it happens. Pit related fire incidents however might benefit from different fueling practices, but it'd be hard to regulate that at certain races..

Another class that seems to have more fire incidents is the UTV class. We've seen a number of cars over the years with spliced in fuel cells to stock fuel lines that leaked and other questionable ideas. A lot of that seemed to be shade tree "mechanics" and shops that rushed into the UTV frenzy with no clue about the demands racing has on equipment.

It's sucks that any car burns, and all that matters is that you buy the occupants enough time to safely get out. Better separation and sealing of the occupant area from the engine/trans/fuel systems as well as the materials used and mandated fire systems; are considered in most professional motorsports and by organizations like the FIA. Whereas in offroad racing other than the cage and certain safety requirements, the way things are done and materials are left up to the discretion of the builder or competitor.
 

mebedb1

Well-Known Member
I'll add that the Levi's truck, RIP, caught fire at the Left Rear wheel, inboard side. and that happened probably 5-10 miles
after a tire change on that side of the truck. I assume the damage to either the brake line or seal was caused by the flat.
I saw the Live feed, in car, of the tire change, so there's an assumption on F or R tire changed, and Live helicopter feed shortly after that showed the fire ball starting to build, at approx 269.5, then aerial feed cut off.

DB
 

critter81

Member
I was thinking the same thing when I rolled by the Levis truck melted to the ground. Seems like a lot lately for sure.

For us it was Trans fluid on the header wrap, caused by us adding fluid and spilling it on the headers.

I think Levis was gear oil (bad seal) or brake fluid (broke line) on the rear brakes.

Not sure what happened to McMillin truck, I did not hear a rumor so they either decided to keep it secrete or they don't know.

The Herbst truck was raw fuel out the exhaust from speed zone mode setting. It was cutting spark but not fuel. (again thats what I heard)

I think Lawrence truck was exhaust on door panel. (just what I heard)

these are all the rumors I heard, I have no direct knowledge of any of them but my own fire.


All of these are different and random. So I am not sure there is a pattern or common connection. I think there is a lot that can go wrong on a desert race truck. The heat and open systems give many ways to have fire.

The good news in all cases the occupants got out fast and safe. I think the fire safety aspect of our sport is the best it's been.


Mike
Out of curiosity why do you wrap your headers? Us old school moto guys realized a long time ago the header wrap traps dirt and debris and causes all kinds of angry stuff, header wrap is also really bad for titanium...
 

jon coleman

Well-Known Member
Great question: It seems the answer lies in the word "Unlimited" as no one ever wants to tweak the "Unlimited" guys or builders, so any convos that mention limiting anything like; tire size, materials, fuel capacity, fueling systems or racing blind are all taboo.

The non pit related fires in these cars do not seem to have a common cause (like there was when the LS motor fuel rails failed when they were the new rage or the C1 trans seals which seemed like common ignition points for a number of fires in the past). So limiting the fuel cell size from 80/100 to 50 gallons wouldn't change anything other than the intensity and duration once it happens. Pit related fire incidents however might benefit from different fueling practices, but it'd be hard to regulate that at certain races..

Another class that seems to have more fire incidents is the UTV class. We've seen a number of cars over the years with spliced in fuel cells to stock fuel lines that leaked and other questionable ideas. A lot of that seemed to be shade tree "mechanics" and shops that rushed into the UTV frenzy with no clue about the demands racing has on equipment.

It's sucks that any car burns, and all that matters is that you buy the occupants enough time to safely get out. Better separation and sealing of the occupant area from the engine/trans/fuel systems as well as the materials used and mandated fire systems; are considered in most professional motorsports and by organizations like the FIA. Whereas in offroad racing other than the cage and certain safety requirements, the way things are done and materials are left up to the discretion of the builder or competitor.
on a Lot of builds ive seen components , fuel pumps, trans coolers ect in direct sight of occupants, bad idea, i always one way or another sealed off any thing besides steel braided line in sight of occupants, , it just makes me cringe seeing an efi fuel pump, push lock fittings ect a foot or two away from direct line of sight to driver, no barrier, at the very least encase the pumps w some lexan splash shields, same with Any potential flammable fluid spraying on driver
 
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