When it comes to choosing a plumbed-in fire extinguisher for a racing vehicle, you essentially have two options – gas or foam-based; and here we look at the benefits of gas-based fire extinguishers for race cars. While both systems can be highly effective, gas-based extinguishers do tend to come with a higher price tag. And because we’re often asked about the benefits of gas fire extinguishers in motorsport, we thought we’d post a blog to highlight these.

We’ve previously outlined the differences between gas and foam-based motorsport fire extinguishers – but here we take a closer look at gas-based models and discuss the relevant benefits of gas fire extinguishers in motorsport in more detail.

The benefits of choosing gas over foam-based extinguishers

While both gas and foam-based models can be very effective for racing cars in motorsport, there are many advantages to opting for a gas-based system, despite the typically higher price. These include:

#1 They’re lighter and more compact

Because the gas in these models is stored in liquid form, the units will take up far less room. That makes them the idea choice for smaller race cars, where space is obviously limited. These extinguishers are also less heavy than their foam-based counterparts, so again that means they’re an excellent investment for lighter cars, where any extra weight will have a disproportionately greater impact on speed and performance.

#2 They’re less likely to cause engine damage

This is another of the benefits of gas fire extinguishers. They tend to cause significantly less damage than foam-based ones because they don’t leave a residue behind after use. Again, this makes foam-based systems a worthwhile investment, since replacing engine parts and components can be an expensive business.

#3 More effective for electric vehicles

With growing concerns for the environment, not to mention soaring fuel costs, electric racing cars are becoming commonplace. Formula E, the single-seater motorsport championship for electric cars, is growing in popularity. So fire safety for EVs is increasingly cropping up in discussions, as the range of available fire extinguisher innovations expands. And when it comes to putting out blazes in battery-powered racing models, gas-based fire systems certainly have the edge. In EVs, the greatest fire hazard is from the lithium battery, where a lot of energy is stored in a very compact area. Batteries are susceptible to spontaneous ignition and even, potentially, subsequent explosion due to overheating. Any resulting blaze will have different characteristics to a standard fire, and can spread rapidly while being tricky to put out. Foam is much less impactful at extinguishing fires in EVs, so gas-based models will have the edge.

#4 They offer the highest levels of safety

As previously discussed, gas works to cool down blazes as well as putting fires out. That gives you the greatest level of protection and effectiveness when fighting all types of vehicle fires. So investing in gas-based extinguishers could be the best investment you ever make.

#5 Used as standard for FIA 2015-8865 and in the higher classes of racing events

If you’re competing in a race event for which Technical List 52/FIA Standard 2015-8865 applies, such as Rally 1 – 5, RXI or all FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) categories (i.e. FIA World Touring Car Cup or WTCR), it’s compulsory to have an extinguisher compliant with Technical List 52, and all of the listed models are gas-based.

That said, it’s important to realise that not all gas extinguishers comply with Technical List 52, so you’ll need to check your specific extinguisher as well as your event’s particular rules and regulations.

#6 The ideal choice for rallying events

Given that gas-based fire suppression systems offer the greatest level of protection against fires in motorsport, they’re the ideal choice for rallying, where there can be a heightened risk of fires. So we always recommend these solutions for anyone taking part in a rally event if their budget allows, for the added protection and effectiveness you enjoy as a result.

So – is it worth investing in a gas-based fire suppression system?

While there are many advantages of gas-based as opposed to foam-based fire extinguishers, Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) still makes for a very powerful kind of racing car fire extinguisher in numerous situations and vehicle models.

If you’re undecided about which type to go for, here’s a summary of the situations in which it’s definitely worth investing in a gas-based extinguisher:

  • Where space is limited
  • Where you don’t want to add any extra weight
  • In especially high-risk or high-impact events
  • To be able to drive in highest levels of safety
  • Where budget allows
  • If you are driving an electric racing car
  • High-end vehicles with expensive components and engines benefit in particular as no residue is left behind
  • If you’re driving in a rally event or indeed any other kind of event where the risk of fire is heightened

Looking for a gas-based fire extinguisher for your racing car?

If you’re looking to invest in new plumbed-in gas fire extinguishers for your race car, or even a hand-held model for a track day or rallying event, we at FEV have an extensive range of gas-based systems for all race classes, including plumbed-in FIA-approved gas fire extinguishers as well as gas handheld models. Then you can start to feel all the benefits of gas fire extinguishers in motorsport.

If you would like more information or help choosing the right race car fire extinguishers, just get in touch with the friendly, professional team and we’ll be more than happy to help. We can also talk through the benefits of gas fire extinguishers for race cars with you at your convenience.