A Personal Injury Lawyer’s Guide to Auto Fires

A Personal Injury Lawyer’s Guide to Auto Fires

A post-collision fuel-fed fire is one of the scariest and most devastating things that can possibly happen on the road.
Many years ago, General Motors’ engineers created a simple fuel system performance goal. They said that if an occupant survives a crash then that occupant should be free of the hazards created by post-collision fuel-fed fires. Some engineers call this the flesh-and-bone rule:
“If the flesh and bone survive, the metal ought to.”
In other words, if the impact forces are not severe enough to kill the occupants, then the fuel system should be able to survive those same forces. After all, the fuel system can be made from metals that are far stronger than flesh and bone.
If all vehicles met this standard, no one would ever burn to death in a post-collision fuel-fed fire. Unfortunately, some vehicles, even today, do not meet this standard.
REMEMBER: vehicle fires are no excuse not to wear a seatbelt. Wear your seatbelt at all times. You must be conscious and able to move in order to escape a fire, and your seatbelt maximizes your chance of escape.
Motor vehicle fire can be dangerous.
  • Nearly 1 out of 4 fires involves motor vehicles
  • 1 out of 8 fire deaths results from motor vehicle fires
  • Approximately 550 are killed and 2,100 civilians and 1,200 firefighters a year are injured from motor vehicle fires
If There is a Fire, What Should I Do?
  • Get yourself and all others out of and away from the vehicle. If the vehicle is in a garage or other structure, exit immediately
  • After you are a safe distance from the vehicle, call the fire department at 911 or the local emergency telephone number. Tell them the location of the fire
  • Remain away from the vehicle: do not attempt to get back into a burning vehicle to retrieve personal property
  • Never put yourself in danger using a fire extinguisher. If you do use a fire extinguisher, only do so from a safe distance and always have a means to get away
  • It is recommended to use a fire extinguisher approved for use on class “B” and class “C” fires
  • Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire under it. Air could rush in, enlarging the fire, leading to injury.
  • The dangers of motor vehicle fire are often overlooked. Each year, these fires kill over 550 people and injure thousands more. Toxic gases and other hazardous substances, and flying debris and explosion, combine to produce serious dangers in motor vehicle fires.

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