Fire extinguishers are generally looked at a bit like car insurance, you know you must pay for it but only as it is compulsory. Often not much thought is given to them and the bare minimum at the least expense is often the default purchase. However, like insurance when you need to use it you are glad you have it ! A better way to look at fire systems (rather than a necessary evil) is as a valuable part of you and your car’s protection and safety.
This year has seen a lot of changes in regulations, so we have put together this guide to help select the right system for your needs.
All competition vehicles racing in the UK under Motorsport UK or FIA regulations must be fitted with a plumbed in fire extinguisher system. Since 01/01/2018 it is mandatory that all extinguishers carried onboard a vehicle are serviced every two years. Enforcing mandatory two-yearly services was the first step by MSUK in the phasing in of FIA homologated fire suppression systems. From 01/01/2022 all vehicles competing in the UK will be required to be fitted with an FIA homologated system. This means that from the start 2022 all 2.25 litre plumbed in systems that do not comply to the FIA’s technical list 16 will no longer be eligible for competition use.
To ensure compliance the extinguisher system must be installed into the vehicle as per the manufacturer’s installation guide. All installation guides are homologated with the FIA and scrutineers will reference these documents when inspecting your vehicle. A copy of the installation guide should be supplied in the extinguisher system package.
For Circuit Vehicles – FIA Technical List 16
The minimum requirement for a circuit vehicle is one plumbed in fire extinguisher homologated to FIA technical list 16.
If the homologation number on the main serial label of the bottle matches one on the list, then as long as it is not over ten years old, has been serviced within the past two years and is fitted as per the manufactures instruction then it is eligible for circuit racing.
For Rally – FIA Technical List 16
As rally cars are very likely to be further away from marshal aid there are a few extra requirements in place for rally cars, one plumbed in and one handheld extinguisher (2.4 litres of foam or 2.0kg of gas) are required. Both must meet the requirements of FIA Technical list 16. There is a note stating which systems are eligible for rally as a minimum of 3.0kgs of suppressant is required.
For FIA Categories WRC, R5, RGT, T1, GT3, WRX – Technical List 52 8865-2015 Standard
The FIA introduced a new standard of fire suppression that came into force for some categories of motorsport, one plumbed in fire extinguisher homologated to technical list 52 is required, again if competing in an FIA rally event then a handheld (2.4 litres of foam or 2.0kg of gas) must be carried. These systems can also be used for lower categories if the lowest weight and best level of protection is required. A good example would be a high value or very rare classic, the kit is a tiny fraction of the cars value.
Your extinguisher will be rejected from scrutineering if:
- The gauge reads in the red sectors, or the piston indicator does not protrude from the end cap (Remote charge piston systems) Please note in extreme cold conditions the indicator pin can retract due to contraction of the gas, be prepared to weigh the system.
- The tamper proof labels have been damaged
- The contents are below the specified weight
- The extinguisher label is worn, illegible or illegally modified
- The extinguisher is not within service date
- The system is in poor condition
- The system should have two points of triggering, one for the driver (and Co-driver in Rallies) and one outside the car for activation by Marshals etc.
- The driver (and co-driver where applicable) must be able to trigger the extinguishing system manually when seated normally with his safety harnesses fastened and the steering wheel in place.
- The triggering point from the exterior must be positioned close to the Circuit Breaker (or combined with it) and must be marked by the letter “E’’ in red inside a white circle of at least 10cm diameter with a red edge.
- The bottle must be situated so it is at least 300 mm from the outer edges of the bodywork in all horizontal directions. It is prohibited to mount bottles outside the main structure.
If the homologation number on the bottle matches one on FIA technical list 16, then as long as it is not over 10 years old, has been serviced within the past 2 years and is fitted as per the manufacturer’s instructions then it is eligible for servicing.
However, the manufacturers service agent can reject the bottle for servicing for the following reasons :
Bottle has dents, gouges, deep scratches, or corrosion.
Service label is badly worn, illegible or illegally modified, or shows servicing by a non manufacturer approved agent ( could be unsafe and have incompatible service parts fitted )
Demon Tweeks are approved service agents for Lifeline, Sparco, and OMP. Please contact sales by phone or e-mail for more details.
Fire extinguishers are a low maintenance product and simple to fit. When looked after and serviced to schedule they should have up to a 10-year life.
Once installed in your car the system requires the following care and maintenance:
- Monitoring of the pressure gauge (where fitted) against operating pressures
- Where a pressure gauge is not fitted the cylinder must be weighed and the weight checked against that written on the serial label
- If required, cleaning of the cylinder should be done using a damp microfibre cloth taking care not to damage the serial label and keeping moisture away from any electrical connections
- Mechanical plumbed-in extinguishers require regular checking of the pull cords to ensure smooth movement. Recommended maintenance period is every 6 months as an absolute minimum
- Depending on use and conditions the nozzles and delivery network should be checked for blockages once a year prior to the new race season, using compressed air after removing all nozzles (2 Bar max from receiver). Nozzles checked separately by blowing through them
- The cylinder must be serviced by the manufacture approved service agent every 2 years
Never mix parts from different kits. Nozzles and pipe sizing are very carefully matched to work with the manufacturer’s suppressant . Atomizers can differ in spray pattern etc. Adding or changing parts even if they look similar might mean it does not work correctly when required.
Never add extra nozzles, this will reduce the suppressant from each nozzle to below the design limit of the system. ( Think of a plastic bottle filled with water, the more holes you make the less comes out of each hole. )
If two cars are being run but not at the same time, make sure if only using one bottle between the two cars, both have the compatible parts from the same manufacturer installed, ( i.e., duplicate the installation )
Always mount nozzles exactly as the manufacturer recommends, cockpit and engine bay.
If you buy a new car and a fire system is installed already, always check installation carefully against the manufacturer’s instructions. Carefully check the service label. If parts look mismatched a replacement system is recommended for your safety. The bottle must be secured by a minimum of 2 screw-locked metallic straps. Some older systems may only have one over centre clip and not have Anti-torpedo tabs ( these stop the bottle escaping either end ) These are required.
Take care installing pipework to avoid sharp bends and possible kinking of the pipework. The larger the radius and the smoother the path the better the suppressant will get to the nozzles. Also avoid positioning the pipework where it can be damaged getting in and out of the car.
FIA Technical List 16 useful links
FIA Technical list 52 useful links
For more information on the specific regulations around your class of racing please follow the below links: