Fire Extinguishers

Home Page Forums General Fire Extinguishers

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
  • #390563

    Forgive me for getting on my soap box and ranting yet again about fire extinguishers.

    After reading about the 845 sedan owned by Jerry Bertram in Indiana, who’s car burnt up after an apparent gas leak caught fire over the gas tank.

    OK, here’s the problem with most of the fire extinguishers we carry in our cars, the are a dry chemical that is a non burning powder that is sprayed to cover the fire like a blanket, smothering the fuel, blocking oxygen to the fire.

    But first you must be able to spray the powder directly on the fuel [whatever is burning] and be able to completely cover the burning surface, so the powder can block oxygen to the fire.

    So a dry powder will work on a flat surface, that you have easy access to, but think about accessing the top of a fuel tank that is burning, tucked up under the body, it just isn’t going to happen. Or more common situation of a fuel leak in the engine compartment, leaking liquid fire under the engine and car, the dry chemical soaks up the gasoline and keeps burning, unless you have enough dry chemical to act like a huge sponge.

    I work in the aviation industry, and aircraft are NOT legal to use dry chemical extinguishers, the FAA only approves HALON type extinguishes.

    The reason is that Halon only needs to be sprayed at or near the fire to be effective, the air being drawn to the fire will bring the Halon to the fire, and it will be starved for oxygen. Halon attaches itself to the air molecules, rendering the oxygen unable to support a fire.

    In an airplane or airliner, accessing a fire directly is very difficult or usually impossible, so the Halon is the only approved device. We are trained to simply flood the area around the fire with the halon, or spray the Halon into the ductwork, wiring compartment, baggage bin etc, and let the fire draw the Halon to itself, and the fire will go out.

    If there are smoltering hot ashes, like burning wood, then the fire CAN reignite, so we are trained to soak any fire area with liquids to put out any small embers that could reignite. This reduces the temperature so the fire cannot start again, similarly, we are trained to shut down all electrical power to an area on fire so hot wired cannot reignite a fire.

    Halon replaces the oxygen in the air, depriving the fire of what it needs to burn, just like the dry chemical trys to smother the fire with a blanket of powder, the halon surrounds the fire with oxygen-depleated air, so the fire is chemically smothered or deprived of oxygen.

    Halon extinguishers are not easy to find nor are they cheap, but the work so well that they are worth the cost and effort to find and buy.

    Maybe someone can post links to sources for these vital Halon extinquishers.

    I ONLY have Halon in my cars and home. It’s worth the expense.

    I hope this message will start a good discussion on the merits of this type of extinguisher and generate sources for us to be able to buy these at a reasonable price. I think the drag racing industry uses Halon, My extinquishers are old home units that have survived for decades, and still are good, but I’d like to buy extras.

    Greg Long


    I concur completely with Greg (I had 27 yrs in the aviation industry) as to the desirability of Halon, but it is banned for new sales except for aviation use. The following is a quote from Wikipedia pertaining to USA requirements:

    “Halon (including Halon 1211 and Halon 1301), a gaseous agent that inhibits the chemical reaction of the fire. Classes B:C for lower weight fire extinguishers (2.3 kg; under 9 lbs) and A:B:C for heavier weights (4.1–7.7 kg; 9–17 lbs). Banned from new production, except for military use, as of January 1, 1994 as its properties contribute to ozone depletion and long atmospheric lifetime, usually 400 years. Halon was completely banned in Europe resulting in stockpiles being sent to the United States for reuse. Although production has been banned, the reuse is still permitted. Halon 1301 and 1211 are being replaced with new halocarbon agents which have no ozone depletion properties and low atmospheric lifetimes, but are less effective. Currently Halotron I, Halotron II, FE-36 Cleanguard and FM-200 are meant to be replacements with significantly reduced ozone depletion potential.”

    I have and carry with me in my Pierces two 10ABC Halon extinguishers that are still holding pressure.

    Grainger sells Halotron extinguishers. I do not know the relative effectiveness of Halotron (there was also a “Halonite”) vs. the genuine Halon.

    Can someone more knowledgeable direct us to other sources?


    I intended to mention (but failed to do so) that a great benefit of Halon is that it creates virtually no mess, unlike other extinguishing agents.


    Concerning Jerry Bertam’s tragic loss. On the cars from at least 1934 to 1938 the gasoline filler tube enters the tank on left side. The filler tube has a small metal bleed tube on the inside. This bleed tube is connected to a air bleed on the top of the gasoline tank to allow air to escape as the tank is filled. The connection is by a flexible “plastic”” tube. I am wondering if this flexible tube is being effected either by age or the gasoline to which alcohol has been added.


    It tears me up to consider Jerry’s fire loss.Is this the first Pierce

    to be lost to alcohol in gasoline? I would like to make my Pierce sedans

    safe from tank related failures.What do I look for? Do I have to remove

    the tank? I didn’t see anything related to gas tank renewal in the parts


    I was on a car tour(60 pre-16 autos)when a T roadster’s gas tank caught

    on fire at the lunch stop.Flames were soaring through the top.Eighty-

    year-olds were moving like teen-agers and the fire was put out with

    conventional extinguishers.

    I plan to talk to my fire chief about halon and see what he knows about

    the obtainable halon knock-offs.I will also be carrying 2 extinguishers

    when practical.


    I have a Halon 1211 extinguisher in each car. Go on ebay, look for them. I have paid between $40 and $90 for each one. I have had one leak empty in the last 6 or 7 years that I have been using them. I have gone to confession and asked for forgiveness for any damage I may be doing to the ozone layer.


    The Halon extinguisher product is not what harms the ozone layer, it is ther process that is used to make the Halon.

    What is sad and ironic, is that the plants that used to make Halon in the states did it with minimal release of harmful agents, but now that the Halon production has moved to Mexico, the Halon production is not anywhere as environmental friendly.

    Greg Long


    I too would like to find a source for these extinguishers. I would also echo Tony’s plan to carry at least 2 extinguishers in each car. A friend in Penn. was on a tour in his Stanley when it caught fire. He pulled off the road, emptied his fire extinguisher on the fire and waited for 20 minutes till the fire department arrived to finally extinguish his burning pile of rubble. One extinguisher did not complete the job…..nor can you rely on the volume of your bladder to help out……


    I went on ebay to confirm that Halon 1211 extinguishers were still available. They are not. There were a few in the $300 to $400 range. This opportunity is over, it looks like.


    This site claims to have the Halon1211.


    What Peter wrote is correct, the concentration of CO2 needed to effectively put out a fire is way above the safety level for humans.

    Halon is effective at putting out a fire at a much lower concentration, at a level that is not dangerous to humans.

    I hope everyone will get themselves a Halon extinguisher for Christmas!!

    Greg Long


    The Amerex Fire Extinguisher Co. sells new Halon 1211 extinguishers made from reclaimed Halon. A 5 lb. extinguisher runs $230 including shipping, other sizes are available.

    See the below link for more information.


    Stu Blair

    Cincinnati, OH


    The Current Issue of Skinned Knuckles Magazine has an excellent article on Fire Extinguishers written by one of the companies that deal in them . Lots of tips and potential pitfalls in this area. I just cringe at the thought of losing my 1934 P-A, “Godfrey” to something so stupid as not having an adequate fire extinguisher with me. It might be something they would allow us to re-publish if we ask Neil Makin, editor. Happy Motoring, Walt3


    Arnold Romberg and I have already talked about publishing the Skinned Knuckles article on fire extinguishers in the PAS Service Bulletin. PAS has an agreement with Skinned Knuckles which allows us to do this.

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.