All of us are naturally afraid of fire—probably because we know too well what fire can do if it's not controlled. Do you know what to do in the event of a fire involving your vehicle? Regardless of where the fire breaks out, the first order of business is to get the vehicle safely stopped well off the road as quickly as you can. Quickly call for police and fire department assistance, or get someone to call for you. If there is any danger at all that the cargo might explode, stop all traffic and clear the area for 2,000 feet. Leave the fire fighting to the fire department—opening cargo doors might result in a dangerous flare-up.
Tire fires are usually the result of extreme heat build-up. If possible use plenty of water, thoroughly dousing the tire to cool it off. If water is not available, use your dry chemical extinguisher or dirt. Be on the alert for the fire starting up again. Fires in the engine compartment can result from electrical shorts or leaking fuel. Dry chemical is the best possible extinguishing agent. If possible, disconnect one of the battery cables to eliminate the possibility of further electrical involvement.
Auto body fires can usually be easily controlled. If the fire was caused by a short, disconnect one battery cable. Use dry chemical or water to control the fire. If fire spreads, let the fire department handle it. If there's any doubt at all about being able to control the fire, call the emergency services quickly. Especially when fire threatens a fuel tank, don't take chances—stop traffic and clear the area. Vehicles are replaceable—people are not.
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.
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