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Regulations and Types of Car Fire Extinguisher

Getting the right fire extinguisher for your car and how you use your car is very important. There are not only a wide range of different car fire extinguishers on the market but a vast array of different motorsports and types of cars to use them in. Choosing the wrong system for your track day car or historic classic could result in some very serious problems. The simple act of reading up on what you might need can make all the difference. This page is designed to give you some insight into the various regulations and types of fire extinguishers that are available including the different suppressants used.

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FIA and Motorsport UK Regulations

Motorsport UK (MSUK) is the UK’s governing body for motorsport. All events that happen in the UK must adhere to the rules and regulations set down by MSUK . These regulations are updated each year and MSUK publish these in their year book commonly known as the blue book. This book is essentially the “bible” of UK motorsport. It not only sets out all the regulations for safety but also the rules of racing from flags to over taking.

The FIA or the Federation Internationale d’Automobile is the global motorsport authority. Every single official race, time trial and motorsport event in the world is governed by the rules laid down by the FIA. So if you are considering running a racing car across multiple countries you must consider the FIA rules as well as the MSUK regulations for the UK.

Types Of Fire Extinguisher

As you would expect, there are a lot of different types of car fire extinguisher and they all have their own specific benefits depending on their use.

The main types of extinguisher:

Foam Fire Extinguisher

Gas Fire Extinguisher

There are then two further options in relation to the application of the system:

Handheld Fire Extinguisher

Plumbed In Fire Extinguisher

Each type of extinguisher system has aspects which make it suitable for different types of racing and types of car.

The Right Type of Fire Extinguisher for Your Car

Handheld Fire Extinguishers

Handheld fire extinguishers are just that, they can be picked up and discharged manually. This makes them very flexible in terms of where they are pointed and also fairly light. This lightness means they are easy to mount in the car and  do not add a great deal of weight. They can contain both gas or foam which means they are perfect for a wide range of uses. Where a handheld unit might not be suitable is in full MSUK motor racing. For racing a plumbed in system is needed.

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Handheld car fire extinguishers are perfect for historic and classic cars because although not a legal requirement they provide some much needed fire protection in what can be a car with very old components and very little in the way of safety features. They are also perfectly suited to high end and super cars. They can be mounted in a handy but discreet place and offer piece of mind to the owner in the event of an incident. No one wants to see their pride and joy go up in smoke and a handheld unit can help arrest a fire before it really takes hold.

Motorsport uses for Handheld Fire Extinguishers

There are some levels of MSUK motorsport where a handheld unit will suffice and these include time trials and hill climbs. These forms of racing do not include racing against other cars and as such are deemed safer. Hand held units can also be useful for 4×4 motoring and green laning.

Plumbed In Fire Extinguishers

For full racing the MSUK and FIA dictate a fully plumbed in system is needed. Quite simply this is a system with a container mounted in the car that has a number of hoses coming off it. These hoses go into the engine bay and other points around the car where a fire could occur. The system can be discharged manually via a switch in the cockpit

plumbed in fire extinguisher

Plumbed in systems can be filled with both gas or foam depending on budget and your preferences. The advantages of a plumbed in system are obvious; a full system provides massively superior fire suppression that can be discharged directly into the engine bay etc instantly. There is not need to get out and use a handheld unit which could take precious seconds to pick up. However, there are other considerations as a plumbed in system can cost significantly more and it will be heavier.  The installation of such a system must be done correctly and should be done by a professional.

Motorsport Uses for Plumbed In Fire Extinguishers

A plumbed in system is needed to race in many MSUK and FIA regulated events and championships but it is also the perfect choice for regular track day cars whereas the handheld is perfect for occasional track use. Where budget allows a plumbed in system is generally considered a better choice but is sometimes not needed where the likely hood of a serious issue is low.

Gas or Foam

Car and racing fire extinguishers can be filled with gas or foam and both have different properties and benefits.


Foam car fire extinguishers are perfect for a sudden fire and work by simply covering the flames and starving the fire of oxygen. The resulting evaporation of the foam further cools the fire and minimises damage. Foam is even useful for liquid fires as it forms a carpet over the burning fluid and helps put it out. Foam fire extinguishers are reliable and offer a great value option.


Gas car fire extinguishers are more commonly used in the more involved forms of motor racing. At one time the gas used was halon which was not only toxic but proved to be very harmful to the environment too. We have actually developed our own alternative to the now banned halon gas called FX G-TEC. Our systems are fully MSUK and FIA homologated and legal to use in racing across the globe. Gas fire extinguishers are used in Formula 1, World Rally, Touring Cars and Sport Car racing among others. Gas racing fire extinguishers are the ultimate in fire suppression for motorsport and work by replacing oxygen around the fire with inert gas and literally starving the fire of oxygen instantly.   Gas is also useful with electrical fires as it is non-conductive and can be used on hybrids.

To speak to one of our team about your specific needs get in touch today.

Below are a few areas of the site you may find useful for more in-depth information.

Fitting Instructions

Fire Safety Information

FIA Approved Fire Extinguishers

MSA Regulations

Technical Data

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