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Choosing a Motorsport UK-Approved Fire Extinguisher

If you’re planning to compete in one of the many racing events coming up this season, and you’re in the process of selecting a new MSUK-approved fire extinguisher, there are a number of things to keep in mind so that you choose the right model for your needs. As you’re no doubt aware, motorsport events are pretty high-risk in terms of fire, with the speeds and highly flammable fuel involved significantly raising the chances of a trackside fire. The right fire suppression system, however, genuinely could save your life, which is why it’s important to make a good decision that leaves nothing to chance.

What are the latest Motorsport UK (MSUK) fire regulations?

Here’s a brief overview of what the current MSUK guidelines state:

  • All fire extinguishers must be serviced every two years by a servicing agent who’s approved by your system’s manufacturer
  • All fire extinguishers must be no more than 10 years old
  • All vehicles competing in UK motorsports must be fitted with a plumbed-in FIA fire extinguisher system complying with FIA Technical List 16 or 52
  • All fire extinguishers must be installed as per the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Plumbed-in fire extinguishers must be located within easy reach of the driver for immediate activation, either by an electrical or mechanical triggering system

MSUK Guidelines for Rallying Events

And if you are taking part in a rallying event, there are some further regulations to take into account for rally cars:

  • You will also need a handheld fire extinguisher
  • For some fire extinguisher types, there are minimum volume requirements as follows:

Minimum volume for handheld extinguishers: For a gas-based handheld model, the minimum volume of suppressant is 2kg, for a foam extinguisher, that figure is 2.4L.

Minimum volume for plumbed-in extinguishers: For gas-based plumbed-in models, the minimum size is 3kg. (However, there is no minimum for foam plumbed-in systems.)

And you can read and learn more about these regulations via the official MSUK guidelines. (These changed in January 2022 to bring MSUK fire extinguisher rules in line with those of the FIA, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile.)

Choosing the right spec for your needs and budget

With many different models and specifications available on today’s market, the sheer choice can seem bewildering when it comes to buying a motorsport fire extinguisher. But, similarly to when purchasing anything else, a lot will depend on what you need and how much you have to spend.

Below, we outline a few considerations to take into account.

Gas or foam?

This is one of the first things you will need to think about – whether to go for a gas or foam-based system for your FIA fire extinguisher. Extinguishers using NOVEC 1230 gas tend to be among the more expensive options, and they take up less space while causing minimal engine damage if you have to use them. Meanwhile, Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is typically available more cheaply – and it’s still a highly effective and fast-acting fire suppressant. Foam AFFF models work by creating a blanket of foam which smothers the flames, cutting off the oxygen supply.

Electrical or mechanically triggered system?

This is something else to think about – do you want to go for an electrical or mechanical triggering activation system for your MSUK-approved fire extinguisher? The latter is activated via pull cables, while electrical systems are activated by pushing a button. One point to bear in mind is that if you go for an electrical system, you should definitely make sure as a sensible safety precaution that its electricity source is separate from your vehicle’s other circuits. That means you won’t be depending on a single source of power.

Extinguisher size

This may sound an obvious one, but the more extinguishant in your race car fire extinguisher, the better its performance when it comes to putting out a fire. That said, the optimal size of your motorsport fire extinguisher will also have to depend on the space you have available, how big your vehicle is and the type of race events you compete in.

(Don’t forget that, as mentioned previously, for rallying events, there are minimum size requirements for plumbed-in gas models, and for both foam and gas handheld MSUK fire extinguishers.)

As you’d expect, the greater the volume of suppressant used in your system, the more space it will take up and the heavier it will be. And it’s especially important to bear this in mind if you’re looking for an Motorsport UK-approved fire extinguisher and driving a lighter vehicle.

How many nozzles?

This is another factor that’s worth considering when choosing your MSUK fire extinguisher – how many nozzles does it come supplied with?

There is no minimum requirement for the number of nozzles on MSUK fire extinguishers, although there has long been a rumour in UK motorsport that there is. If the system is FIA homologated to FIA Technical List 16 or Technical List 52, then the system is fine for use.

However, when choosing a fire extinguisher for a competition car, it’s important to check how many nozzles your system comes with and choose one that fits your requirements and setup. If you do decide later on that you require additional nozzles, it is not possible to add or change the amount without invalidating the homologation of your extinguisher.

Some of our most popular MSUK fire extinguishers

As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of Motorsport UK fire extinguisher systems, at FEV we offer a range of different options which are suitable for varied events, cars and budgets. Here are some of our most popular models of motorsport fire extinguishers:

Looking for more advice on choosing a race car fire extinguisher?

We hope this guide has been helpful as a guide to choosing a Motorsport UK-approved fire extinguisher that is also FIA-compliant. If you have any further questions and need more help in making your choice, drop us a message or give us a call and we’ll be pleased to help. We have solutions whether you’re looking for an FIA Technical List 16 MSUK fire extinguisher or a Technical List 52 system. At the same time, we have specially tailored packages for rally events, track days and classic cars. Get in touch today to learn more.