Subject: Lesson Learned
               Vehicle Fire Extinguisher Explosion - FYI

Attached is copy of photos and USDA Forest Service memo on an explosion of a small portable fire extinguisher. 


USDA Forest Service
Sequoia National Forest

On May 29, 2003, a fire extinguisher that was stored in the cab area of a Forest Service pick-up truck exploded. The force of the explosion damaged the seat, dented the metal side-wall of the cab, and broke 2 oak wooden handles on a pair of tree pruners. If an employee was inside the truck cab at the time of the explosion they could have been seriously injured. At this time we do not know why the extinguisher exploded. 

I recommend you do the following:

* DO NOT store fire extinguishers inside the cabs of pick-up trucks. There generally isn't enough room and extinguishers stored behind truck seats are at risk of being damaged when the seat is adjusted back. I recommend they be stored inside utility boxes secured to the truck bed or, for pick-up trucks without utility boxes, secured properly inside the truck bed in a bracket made for the model extinguisher you are carrying.

* For SUVs I recommend you store the extinguisher in the back storage space and secure the extinguisher properly in a bracket attached to the wall or inside a cargo box.

* For fire engines and patrol vehicles the extinguishers should be secured in brackets in a cargo compartment, on running boards or inside the truck bed for patrol vehicles.

* Extinguishers need to be secured in areas on the vehicle where they will not be dented or otherwise damaged. Exposing extinguishers to the weather shortens their service life.

* A reminder that extinguishers need to be serviced annually by a professional service company and supervisors are responsible for completing monthly inspections. 

District FM

Lesson Learned: Take care with extinguisher storage 

Recommend that you:

  • inspect your vehicle fire extinguishers, 
  • ensure they are mounted, and 
  • check to see where they are mounted. 

If they are mounted in a area that could cause injury in the event of failure, recommend that they be relocate as in the attached memo.

Note: Fire extinguishers in business use must be annually inspected/certified/tagged by a professional. In addition any use (broken seal, missing tag) requires that the unit be inspected, recharged & retagged.   Report any out of date or discharged units to OFS work desk 646-7114.  Addition information on fire extinguisher use and answers to frequently asked question are provided on the EH&S fire safety program.


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    This page was last updated on 08/22/2008