(TOLEDO, Ohio - October 11, 2012) - ARCA competitors are encouraged to note new guidelines regarding fire bottle recertification for the 2013 racing season.
In 2013, local Department of Transportation recertification for in-car fire suppression systems will no longer be allowed. Competitors must consult their specific fire bottle manufacturer for shipping and pricing information before sending products for certification.
Fire bottle recertification is important to ensure proper functioning of important system components in the event of a vehicle fire in competition, says Terry Francis, a 19-year firefighter in northwest Ohio's Monclova Township and a five-year ARCA official.
"The first thing you want to do in a fire is protect that driver," Francis said. "Inside the car, the fire suppression system extinguishes a fire with the touch of a button. The driver can hit a big red button and it fires off a chemical inside the engine compartment and the cockpit, the compartment the driver's sitting in. You want to get that fire out of the cockpit as soon as possible."
Fire suppression systems, like those used in ARCA and produced by leading companies such as Safety Systems, Inc. and Safecraft, are mounted in a car with tubing and nozzles pointed at the driver.
The chemical combination required in ARCA competition is known as FE-36, an environmentally-preferred substitute for Halon, which is not allowed. FE-36 is discharged as a stream of gas and liquid drops that penetrate the fire area on the touch of that red button. The stream works to stop combustion by absorbing heat and creating a chemical interaction. Upon the touch of the button, FE-36 is emitted instantly, extinguishing a fire quicker than conventional emergency personnel could reach the car and allowing for a driver's safety in the race car.
FE-36 is safe for people, and is a clean agent that does not leave residue. It is neither conductive nor corrosive, and gives no thermal shock.
Fire bottle recertification is required every two years, and bottles are no longer able to be recertified - or recharged - after six years in use.
"To me, I like to see recertification every two years," Francis said. "Most of your fire extinguishers are inspected every year. After a while, your connections can go bad, you find leaks, and you lose charge a lot faster. Fire bottles have to be recharged on a regular basis."
Of course, there's more to the safety equation in the event of a vehicle fire than extinguishing the flames.
"In a fire, (the driver) is going to hit that button to take away the oxygen to stop the fire, but when you do that, you take the oxygen out of the air you breathe," Francis said, highlighting the importance of personal response time in such an instance. He later said that drivers occasionally go unconscious in such a situation, leaving the fire bottle untouched and not activated for safety. In those cases, responder assistance is absolutely necessary.
But in the case a fire bottle can be accessed in the car, being up to date on necessary SFI certifications is paramount. Contact information is below.
To contact Safecraft Safety Equipment, call 1-800-400-2259 for the home office in Concord, Calif. or call (704) 455-9422 for the service center in Concord, N.C.
To reach the California office by fax, fax to (925) 405-0311.
Customer service is also available via email, at email@example.com.
To contact Safety Systems Inc. for the Fire Bottle Fire Suppression System, call (239) 995-6300.
To reach Safety Systems, Inc. by fax, fax to (239) 995-6301.
Customer service is also available by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For other brands of fire suppression systems, contact your specific manufacturer for shipping and pricing information before sending products for certification.