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wow!..that's such a shame...i feel for the owner....having had VW's in my youth,i don't want to diss them in general...but we all know heat is the weak link in these engines...along with fuel lines and filters close to hot things....as well as said back fire through the carbs & air cleaner among other stuff which is avoidable with regular maintenance and proper tuning,,,,which is why i went liquid cooled and fuel injection...i also have a good extinguisher at arms length.....not saying this sad event still isn't possible, but the odds are lower ....just IMHO

Fire extinguishers are another type of insurance policy.  Would you buy a policy from an offshore company that wasn't regulated by your state insurance commissioner?  That's just what you are doing when you buy BlazeCut.  They say they don't need to be approved, since extinguishers in cars are not mandated.

I am a retired fireman, and worked back in the '60's and '70's, when car fires, especially older VW's, were common.  You will be struck stupid on your first car fire.  It's always smart to have a portable extinguisher, but smart money is on the best fixed system you can afford.  With a portable extinguisher, you will need to do several things quickly: undo your extinguisher, put on your gloves, release the engine lid, lift the lid, activate the extinguisher at the base of the fire.  Does it sound easy?

I probably had to put out 10 car fires before I became proficient.  I'm not a slow learner, but adrenalin surges don't help us learn. 

All the US-made fixed systems I have seen (BlazeCut was made in the Czech Republic when I checked last) have UL Lab and NFPA approval.  Save up for the right system, and hope you never need it.  Every owner should also do a periodic safety inspection, using your sight, smell, touch, and hearing senses.  Look for cracked or worn spots on your fuel lines, squeeze the rubber lines to ensure that they are still pliable, smell for gasoline, and listen for odd noises with the engine at idle that can indicate a loose fitting.   

I don't even think BlazeCut is a halfway measure, since the owner will count on it to do the job of fire suppression, and it may fail.

Thanks, @Jim Kelly -

Every time somebody posts a picture of a burned Speedster (and I mean EVERY SINGLE TIME), somebody will make mention of how sad it was, and that "the car could have been saved by a Blazecut". But I'm still waiting to hear from somebody who's car was actually saved by one.

Has anybody on this site ever had a car fire actually put out with a Blazecut?

Lots of guys have them. They seem like a good idea. But my beef with the constant recommendation is that I don't know of anybody (either firsthand, second hand, or apocryphal tale) who's car was in actuality "saved by a Blazecut".

Anybody?

Jim Kelly is spot on with saying : You will be struck stupid on your first car fire, but adrenalin surges don't help us learn

I posted this previously.....Response to an engine fire:

~ You first notice the engine performance dropping off ( 4 - 5 seconds) then look at gauges ( 2 - 3 seconds)

~ Slow down and pull off onto the road shoulder 5- 7 seconds)

~ Realizing smoke and flames are rolling out from engine grill & the time to process this ( 7 seconds)

~ Shut off engine, fumble to get the fire extinguisher off the mounting bracket try to get the deck lid open only to find the heat has already gotten to the fiberglass area that the latch is mounted to and it won't open (10 seconds)

~ Fumble with the pull pin trying in vane to discharge the extinguisher into the engine grill to no avail ( 15 seconds)

You're now at a minimum of 47 plus seconds past the point you realized the engine fire (eternity) and wonder why you are holding the now empty fire extinguisher as the fire engulfs the car section of the car while you get that sickening feeling .

                                                        *************

It happened to me once ( bad push rod - engine popped through carb)  and I was lucky had it not been for the Maryland Highway truck passing by at the right moment and two guys running to the car with large fire extinguishers ( fire out in 5 seconds) the speedster would have been history.

@Jim Kelly for the WIN!

I agree totally. Why do you think racecars are REQUIRED to have a fire bottle(approved and stamped and regulated!) installed?

Because when the crap hits the fan, all you need to do is pull the lever.

I've posted the same sentiments as Jim, Stan, and Alan. An extinguisher MAY help. A Blazecut might.

But a 5 or 10 pound fire bottle WILL extinguish the flames. It's a good idea to have an extinguisher handy, just in case of re-ignition. That's why every corner worker has one. But the fire bottle is primary. The best part? No danger of getting burned opening a lid and introducing MORE oxygen.

Call me chicken, but the first thing I'll pull if my car is afire is a quick exit, stage left.

A man's got to know his limitations and I'm no Jim Kelly.

I do have a buttload of stated value insurance. What I don't have is interest in carrying a 10lb fire extinguisher, heavy gloves and the hope that I can crack the lid in time while dodging flaming, dripping polystyrene.

Let it burn if it's time, just keep me and my passenger safe. I can buy another one (car, that is).

Last edited by Michael Pickett
@WOLFGANG posted:

BlazeCut does have TUV certification. TUV is the European equivalent of the US UL certification.  TUV is internationally recognized.  It was developed in Slovakia (not Czech Republic).

I think most of us know what TUV approval is...

The Blazecut does NOT have SFI(SEMA Foundation, Inc), SCCA(Sports Car Club of America), or FIA(Federation Internationale de l'Automobile), or PCA(Porsche Club of America) approval. That tells me I don't want anything to do with it.

The other thing to look at is VOLUME. Five or ten pounds of smothering agent versus what volume is in that skinny little tube? Maybe a half liter or half quart?

That's a pint glass full of beer. Any REAL fire would just laugh at that. What's that going to accomplish? DO THE MATH.

As this thread is about nobody we know, I think it's OK to hijack it a bit.

In my line of work, there is a subset of folks who know just enough about how one thing works and therefore think they fully understand how all things work. It's not that what they know is wrong, it's just that it's not very complete or nuanced. They own a hammer and everything looks like a nail.

By way of example, I ran a call at an ethnic restaurant the beginning of this summer. It was a pleasant day, in the low 80s. The freezer was in a kitchen that was 95*, with the condensing unit sitting on top of the box where the temperature was over 100*. The freezer was packed with food from floor to ceiling, back of the box all the way to the door. The system was low on refrigerant. I added a couple of pounds of gas, and told the owner that he'd need to move the food in order to find and fix the leak, and that he really should consider moving the condensing unit outside. He was having none of it - the box was "fixed".

A week later, he called back. The temperature was over 90* outside now, and the kitchen was sweltering. The temperature on top of the box was hotter than the surface of the sun. I sent Right-Hand Man Brad on the call, and he found the head pressure in the system over 400 psi (normal is 250, and the burst pressure of the piping is about 450 psi). The owner knew exactly what the problem was - the system needed gas. I had told him there was a slow leak, and he just KNEW it was low on gas. The fact that it was not (in point of fact) low on gas was not computing with him. He knew what the issue was. The box was warm - just like it had been when it was low on gas. Ergo: the system had to be low on gas. Correlation equaled causation. This nail required a hammer.

I had to go over there to confirm the diagnosis, because he didn't trust Brad. We both told him that he'd need to cool down the kitchen or move the condenser outside, and that the box needed to be unloaded if he wanted a leak check. He refused to accept any of this. I told him that if he wanted a second (third?) opinion, I wouldn't mind - but we were done until he took the advice. We both left.

A week later, his wife called and asked that I (not Brad) come over and add gas to the system. I declined the request.

The point of this long/boring story?

We're a lot like that here. Somebody posts something that seems like a good idea (Blazecut, in this instance), and it becomes the orthodoxy. If anybody posts a picture of a burned car, we respond in unison (like a responsive reading in Church), "it could have been saved with a Blazecut". It becomes what you say in a situation like that, akin to "I'm sorry for your loss" at a wake, or "I'm so very happy for you" at a wedding. We don't even really think about what we're saying, we just want to say the right thing.  "You're probably relieved" or"I'll give you 6 months" doesn't seem like the right thing to say, even if it's true. Nobody likes to think about their car burning, or how hard it might be to stop it.

The fire thing is a lot like the funeral/wedding thing. We don't know that a Blazecut could have saved it, but we wanna' say something meaningful. As Danny pointed out, a Blazecut has a thimbleful of retardant in the tube. There are no nozzles of any kind, so when the tube melts it might spray exactly where it's needed, but then again it might not. The one thing that is for sure is that there has to be a flame for the tube to melt at all, so the fire is going to be blazing away before it discharges.

There's nothing wrong with the idea - a passive system seems like it might be a good thing to have. But we have zero data to prove that a Blazecut will always be enough, or that it could have or would have saved this particular car in this particular fire. Suggesting it would have saved it is just the thing we say when we don't know what else to say, and when we aren't thinking very hard about all of the possible outcomes.

Freezers get warm because they are low on refrigerant. Blazecut would have saved it. 60% of the time, it works every time.

I call this the "Folklore and Common Knowledge" effect. It's shorthand of the kind of apocryphal tale that sounds like it ought to be true, but nobody has borne witness to the facts being relayed. I'm lumping plastic fuel filters in the engine compartment in this same category. We've been hearing for years that it's the sin unto death - but I know of nobody who's actually seen a car that burnt as a result of one. It's probably not a great idea to have one in there, but it's not likely to spontaneously combust.

To introduce my own bias to the discussion - I'd bet that 99% of these cars burn because they sneeze back through the carbs and soak an air-filter element with fuel. At that point, the car is one backfire away from lighting the element, and setting off a campfire. This has nearly happened to me twice, so at least I've seen it. In such a situation, a Blazecut may spray just the perfect amount of retardant right on the air-filter and extinguish the fire (hooray!). But it might just as easily spray it's thimbleful of retardant in a different direction, where the cooling fan sucks it out of the engine compartment and discharges it out the bottom of the engine. At that point - you've already spent your nickle and no candy fell out of the machine. It might still be worth putting the nickle in the slot, but I'd have a backup plan if it didn't work.

I'm not saying a Blazecut doesn't work - as I said, they seem like an OK idea in the hypothetical abstract. But as far as I know nobody has actually seen one that saved a car, and I'm asking that we stop repeating stuff that sounds like it ought to be true if we don't (in fact) know it to be true.

That's not "settled science" that's "Folklore and Common Knowledge".

Last edited by Stan Galat

@Stan Galat, you have me thinking about my engine compartment extinguisher. It is the same one IM has used. It is a stainless steel tube with a little capsule on each end that can melt.

I have seen them mounted up high on the firewall.  Now I am thinking that, in that location, maybe the discharge from the extinguisher might be sucked into the fan,

Because my electronic ignition stuff is mounted in that position, I mounted the extinguisher in the rear, under the latch.  I have wondered about the effectiveness of it being in that location. Now I am thinking that in this location the fan might pull the discharge through the engine compartment, filling it better.

I also have an Element extinguisher. It could be that some of the Blazecut criticisms could also be leveled against the Element.  I would probably try to discharge the Element through the grille instead of opening the engine compartment lid and letting more air into the fire.

What happens when the BlazeCut retardant hits air/fire?  If it’s like standard fire extinguisher retardant, I would say it probably wouldn’t be effective. OTOH, if it reacts anything like 2 part foam, which expands to something like 1,000 times it’s original volume, I could see that little tube easily filling an engine compartment with foam and extinguishing a fire. Might require a complete rebuild afterwards, but so do most onboard halon systems afaik.

Put me in the “Agreed Value Policy is my fire extinguisher” camp.

Last edited by dlearl476

Dave, the Blazecut tube becomes junk after it goes off. It is a plastic tube that melts, there won't be anything left worth saving or rebuilding.

It also uses HFC, which is a clean agent Halon-like substance. Halon works by displacing the oxygen and smothering the fire by removing the oxygen source from the equation. HFC does not displace oxygen, it takes the heat away making further combustion impossible.

It is not foam.

As others have stated as well, I have three problems with the Blazecut.

First, it's too small. Second, there are no jets so you have no idea where the tube will melt open or which way the chemical will go. And last: it's like closing the barn door after the horses have got out. It requires high heat or a flame, or a full-on BIG problem for it to work.

Let's just say I'm cruising down the road with my remote-activated fire bottle installed. Let's just say I see smoke or smell something funny. It could be oil, gas, heck it could be burning brake pads/shoes. I pull over, and the smoke intensifies. I simply pull the lever. Fire is now out, BEFORE flames even got started. Before my decklid/clamshell melted from the inside out. Before half the car is gone.

What about residue? From what I’ve seen of pit fires immediately DNF-ing endurance racing cars after setting off the fire system, I imagine it would be a pretty significant cleanup. (That’s what j meant by rebuild, no rebuilding the BlazeCut tubes.)



ps: What’s that old saying? A pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure? I check my oil before almost every drive. I’m going to make a conscious effort to inspect my fuel system every time open the clamshell from now on. Should have been doing it all along.

Last edited by dlearl476
@Stan Galat posted:

Thanks, @Jim Kelly -

Every time somebody posts a picture of a burned Speedster (and I mean EVERY SINGLE TIME), somebody will make mention of how sad it was, and that "the car could have been saved by a Blazecut". But I'm still waiting to hear from somebody who's car was actually saved by one.

Has anybody on this site ever had a car fire actually put out with a Blazecut?

Lots of guys have them. They seem like a good idea. But my beef with the constant recommendation is that I don't know of anybody (either firsthand, second hand, or apocryphal tale) who's car was in actuality "saved by a Blazecut".

Anybody?

I am thinking that those who make the effort to install the BlazeCut systems are the same ones who maintain their cars more meticulously and therefore have less probability of fires? Something to think about.

.

.

Simple system to fabricate would be a 5 lb. Halotron Fire Extinguisher plumbed to a release valve near the driver and "Y" plumbed in the engine bay , probably could do it for about $300.



@MangoSmoothie.ca did just that and posted about it here.

He even made his own nozzles!

With the engine out, he then tested the system and made this short video. You can see the kind of pressure, volume, and coverage you get from a bottle and nozzle system. (The test is for just a second, but the valve could be held open for prolly 30 seconds to a minute.)



.

Last edited by Sacto Mitch

I didn’t read the copy on the OMP bottle, but I’d assume it’s the same as the Comp Motorsports version, which it says it’s water soluble so it cleans up with a hose. That would be my only reservation, having retardant in every nook and cranny forever.

But I guess it beats the alternative: a pile of melted fiberglass.



eta: Those 4L systems are designed to meet the sanctioning body’s rules and are designed to protect the driver in the the event of a crash where the driver is a) possibly momentarily incapacitated and b) doused in flammable fluids.

From what I’ve seen of race cars, they would take up a sizable bit of real estate in our clown cars. It would be nice to get a 2L system with engine compartment nozzles only. I imaging I could fit a 2L bottle behind my driver or passenger seat. Otherwise wasted space.

Last edited by dlearl476

In a Formula Vee, one nozzle is in the cockpit, the other is in the engine bay.

My 5 pound bottle weighs about 7-8 pounds full, and it's rather small. Probably 5 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. You could easily fit it in that dead space in front of the clamshell latches. Run a pull cable and about 4 feet of aluminum tubing and a nozzle over each carb. Put it on the passenger side.

I made aluminum covers to keep dirt out of that area. A piece of .020" or .030" aluminum 6" x 12" covers one side. Make a paper pattern. I riveted mine in place.

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