Vehicle Fires: Is It Time to Change Our Training?

Issue 7 and Volume 163.

BY LEE JUNKINS Auto manufacturers have spent billions of dollars making today’s vehicles safe. With air bag systems, occupant classification systems, cushioned bumpers, crumple zones, and high-strength steel reinforcement, vehicles are literally built to wreck. But, today, there is not one vehicle built to burn. Today’s vehicle fires have proven to be some of the most dangerous calls we can make. A 2008 National Fire Protection Association report showed that nationwide one out of every four fires to which we respond is a vehicle fire and that the lowest number of vehicle accidents occurred in 2007, when 278,000 car fires were reported. Because we have not changed our vehicle fire training to adapt to strategies needed for the potential hazards of the new technologies in today’s cars, we are teaching firefighters that they are supposed to be in the paths of the dangers these new vehicles pose when fighting a…

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