Motorsport UK (MSUK) is updating its regulations on fire safety to bring them in line with current Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) standards requiring all competition cars to be fitted with an FIA homologated fire suppression system by January 2022. And while the industry and market have known these changes were coming for a while, we’re now entering the last few months before all vehicles will need to have the right system fitted, not just new-build models.
Amended MSUK regulations for competition vehicles have been in place since January 2019, requiring all new-build vehicles to have an FIA-homologated fire suppression system fitted, as per the MSUK yearbook of motorsport safety regulations. Prior to that, MSUK allowed in its regulations for the use of a 2.25-ltr plumbed-in fire extinguisher system. However, fire safety measures in this size were not homologated (i.e. officially approved) by the FIA. MSUK now wants to meet FIA guidelines, which is the reason behind the change in regulations.
These guidelines state that all circuit vehicles require a minimum of one plumbed-in fire extinguisher, homologated to the FIA Technical List 16.
A transition period has allowed all current log-booked competition vehicles to continue using the minimum fire safety requirement until 1 January 2022. From this date, the regulations will be extended to cover all competition vehicles – stating that vehicles must be fitted with an FIA homologated system that meets the minimum requirement as stipulated for the competition event that they are participating in.
Why is Fire Safety so Important in Motorsports?
For all levels of motorsport – from track and circuit days through to Formula 1, the hazards associated with motorsport are very real and always present. In terms of fire safety, motorsport fire suppression needs to work in one of the harshest environments there is.
Onboard electrical and fuel systems are the most likely potential areas where a fire could occur, also heat could build up in the engine bay causing a fire. Once a fire has started, it can rip through a vehicle at incredible speed, posing huge risk to the driver(s) and possible excessive damage to the vehicle. All fire suppression systems are designed to allow more time for the driver(s) to exit the vehicle.
It is therefore understandable that with these potential hazards, the new Motorsport UK regulations have been welcomed across the motorsport industry.
Are the MSUK Fire Safety Rules Different for Rally Cars?
The extra requirements for rally cars mean both a plumbed-in and hand-held fire extinguisher are required. Both must meet the FIA Technical List 16 rally-specific regulations of 3.0kg gas being the minimum in a plumbed-in system, whilst for foam-based fire extinguishers there is no minimum size, it just needs to be FIA-homologated. The hand-held minimum for AFFF foam is 2.4ltrs and 2.0kg for gas.
What Else Do The Existing Rules Say?
Any competition vehicle participating under Motorsport UK or FIA regulations must be fitted with a fire suppression system that the driver(s) can activate either by a button or cable.
Fire suppression systems should be in date and re-certified every 2 years either by the manufacturer or an approved service agent. Any suppression system found to be out of date by scrutineers – could mean refusal of participation at the event.
When installing a fire suppression system – the instructions from the manufacturer must be followed and parts supplied must be used.
What is a Fitted Fire Suppression System?
These are more permanent fixtures of racing cars and are intended to be ‘plumbed in’ so that they are fixed firmly in place via a bracket. The bottle is only ever taken out for servicing.
These solutions come in electrical or mechanical form – and this refers to the way they are activated. They are connected to a pipework system with nozzles at the end.
Mechanical versions use systems of cables which are replaced in their electrical counterparts with electronic buttons. (And the electrical models are recommended by Motorsport UK.)
If you have the skills and some engineering know-how within your motorsport team, you should be able to fit a fire suppression system yourselves in-house. Equally, of course, all staff involved at the track should be trained in how these systems work.
Browse Our Range of FIA-certified Homologated Fire Suppression Systems
At motorsport fire suppression specialists FEV, we supply a broad range of fire suppression solutions to meet the new regulations and homologated to both FIA and MSUK standards. These include 3.5 and 4.0-ltr mechanical and electrical foam options, alongside a full range of gas-based products.
Our staff members are always happy to talk to your brand or team and offer advice on your individual needs and budget, and we remain at the forefront of fire safety technology.
We have worked with and supplied numerous different motor racing cars and teams and have some of the best-quality fire systems you’ll find anywhere, especially designed for competitions and motorsport vehicles.
Get in touch today to learn more – and make sure you’re ready to race in 2022.