Ministry of Transportation / Ministère des Transports
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VI. Dealing with emergencies
Fire precautions

Commercial vehicle drivers should know how to prevent fires and have a basic knowledge of fire-fighting techniques. It’s also essential to know what types of extinguisher or retardants to use on different types of fires.

Class A: fires include burning wood, paper, textiles, tires, etc.

Class B: fires include grease, oil, gasoline, solvents, paints, etc.

Class C: fires are those occurring in live electrical equipment

Class D: fires include burning metals such as magnesium, sodium, potassium etc. Only special compounds suitable to the combustible metal involved should be used to extinguish fires on these materials.

Use all extinguishers according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some of the common causes for truck fires are:

  • Running with a soft tire
  • Overheated brakes, either from misuse or maladjustment. Check hub temperatures every time tires are checked
  • Leaking fuel system, pump, filter, tanks or lines
  • Unequal distribution of load, causing trailer to lean and rub on tires
  • Careless smoking habits. Lighted cigarettes and cigars should always be butted in ashtrays, never thrown out windows. Never smoke while loading or unloading
  • Carelessly placed flares, lamps or fuses used in an emergency
  • Short circuits in the electrical system

There are various other reasons for fires, such as leaking exhaust systems or those that have been installed too close to fuel lines or wooden body parts. Occasionally, spontaneous combustion may occur in a van or trailer. Drivers must always know the nature of their cargoes, so necessary fire-control precautions can be taken.

When a fire occurs:
    1. Stop the vehicle in a safe position away from buildings and other vehicles.
    2. If it is a combination unit, uncouple the unit if possible.
    3. If the fire occurs in or near a town, contact the fire depart­ment. Tell them what type of material
      is burning.
    4. Based on the type of fire concerned, take all possible steps to extinguish it.
    5. If the fire is thought to be due to a short-circuit, remove battery cables.
    6. If the cargo is of an explosive nature, stop traffic and warn spectators to stay back.