Extrication Zone, Fireground Safety

Firefighter Near Miss: Vehicle Fire

Firefighter pulls a line at a vehicle fire

By Erick Angulo

Photos by Bill Tweedy

On September 17, 2018, Vallejo (CA) Engine 1 was dispatched to a report of a vehicle fire. Engine 1 arrived on scene of a working vehicle fire, which was contained to the engine compartment. As I pulled the front bumper 1 3/4-inch hos line and started to get ready to suppress the fire, one of the struts under the hood exploded and shot out like a rocket. It came out with so much force it ended up underneath the closed rollup door.

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This was definitely a close call. I did not see the strut coming until it hit the door behind me. A big earning point for me was that the car had more smoke then fire to the engine compartment, which was misleading. Remember, these struts come out at a high rate of speed and can cause serious injury.This is why it is important to always approach a vehicle at a 45-degree angle and be ready for anything.

Special thanks to Bill Tweedy for the pictures and Captain Goodner and acting engineer Tim Boothe, who were on this call.

Erick AnguloErick Angulo is a firefighter-paramedic for the City of Vallejo (CA) Fire Department.