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Fire Research Notes


Chandler, S.E., 1970. FIRES IN ROAD VEHICLES 1968. Fire Research Notes 836


Fires in road vehicles increased from 10716 in 1963 to 15188 in 1968, the year on which this report is based. About half of the fires (6892 in 1968) were in cars. This is a rate of 0.64 fires per thousand licenses. Lorry fires numbered 3900 in 1968, and, like cars, had been increasing steadily over the previous five years. Fires in motor cycles decreased to a level of 1348 in 1968 (1.02 per thousand licenses). Fires in tankers and buses, although small in number approximately doubled in the five years 1964 - 1968. This coincides with the greater use of rear-engined vehicles, but there is no evidence to suggest that these vehicles are a greater fire risk. It appears that the numbers of tanker and bus fires in which liquids other than petrol and diesel fuel oil were ignited initially would be sufficient to explain this increase. The fire incidence rate for goods vehicles is estimated to be about 3.16 per thousand licenses and that for buses is as high as 5.27. Car fires are most frequent during the later part of the day and lorries between 0900 and 1500. This may be related to the mileages covered. Sixty seven per cent of motor cycle fires occur after 1500. The most important sources of ignition in road vehicle fires are wire and cable (4752 fires), engine (4264 fires) and mechanical heat and sparks (1044 fires). This last cause and 'ashes and soot' were major causes of lorry fires. An increasingly frequent source of ignition is malicious ignition, having risen from 68 fires in 1963 to 436 in 1968. In 4112 fires petrol was ignited and insulation accounted for 4020 fires.

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