The volunteer Vavenby Fire Department was busy putting out a vehicle fire Sunday night, as part of a live fire training exercise.
Dark smoke bellowed out from the vehicle as the teams controlled the fire, practicing various techniques, before putting it out completely a short time later.
Vehicle fires are quite dangerous as many parts will explode, such as tires, shocks and gas tanks, shooting debris great distances. Even the bumpers have shock absorbers in them now, that can cause the bumper to fly straight out from the vehicle, said Fire Chief Philip Weber. That’s why you’ll see firefighters tackle a vehicle blaze from an angle.
Breathing in the fumes from a vehicle fire can also be quite damaging to the body as the vehicle is made up of plastics, metals and various toxic liquids, such as brake fluid or battery acid.
Because of the extreme dangers of a vehicle fire, firefighters wear full protective gear, even just for practice, including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to keep themselves safe.
While the VFD team has the ability to put out these fires quickly upon arrival, there are some materials that need to burn themselves out, such as aluminum wheels or magnesium steering columns, said Weber.
A vehicle fire can reach temperatures of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (over 800 degrees Celsius). A technique used by firefighters is to create a fan with the hose, which helps to push the heat forward as they walk towards the vehicle.
“You can feel the air rushing by you,” said Weber. “Works really well.”
The VFD holds practices each week, and testing their skills at various exercises, such as water and ice rescue and smoke drills in a C-can. Once per month, the team tests and inspects the SCBAs, which was done after the live fire practice.