How would you attack this car fire?

With fires in today's vehicles, it is critical to know the risks and how to protect firefighters against them.

By Robert Avsec

Fire departments across the United States frequently respond to vehicle fires, and just like responses to fire alarm system activations, this frequency can lead to complacent behavior on the part of firefighters and officers.

Car fires involving modern automobiles — constructed of high-tech composite materials and plastics — present fires that demand that personnel are properly equipped and that sound tactics are employed. The intense heat and noxious smoke produced by these fire present significant radiant heat and inhalation risks to firefighters and civilians alike.

Discussion questions

  • What initial actions would you and your personnel take if you responded to a similar incident?
  • Are there a life-safety hazards in this scenario? If so, how would you and your personnel address those hazards?
  • What are the safety hazards that firefighters must be conscious of when approaching and extinguishing a fire in today’s automobiles?
  • Is there a legitimate exposure threat?

Comments - Add Yours


  1. Good job to the crew for the property save. However I think we can all agree that being up wind from the smoke would be better for initial attack. To elaborate on that, it is a better idea to do so, so you can actually see what you are putting water on. Also if you are blanketed in smoke, it makes it hard for command to see your status. Proper PPE usage was also another issue I saw in this video. It is important to wear our SCBA’s when any kind of fire condition is involved. We also need to wear said SCBA’s properly. Last but not least we need to remember to be mindful of exploding hazards with all vehicle fires. Didn’t seem like this crew minded much. Just my 2 cents worth.

  2. Totally agree on the attack on the other side of the vehicule and the proper use of the SCBA. Though I’m not familiar with the tactics in the US (I’m a french firefighter), I think the FireFighter with the BA is the one in command, though is the one quickly disappearing in the smoke.
    When on call for a fire, fellow FireFighter sitting at the back of the truck put their BA from the start, therefore, they are already equipped on the scene. Everyone has his task:

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