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Strange sparks at a car fire??????

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  • #16
    If the spark/s where bright white and it acted like a fireworks display it was most likely magnesium.
    You need to be carefull when applying water to it. We where out on a barn fire about a year and a half ago that had concrete tools stored in it. The barn was on the ground before we where notifed of the fire. Lukely it was cold out and I put on all my gear. The only skin I had showing was around my face where my hood didn't cover. My face sheld was down. I was working the outer edge putting out hot spots. Next thing I knew I was engulfed in a fire ball. I didn't see the concrete tools because the barn tin was laying over it. There was a small opening in the tin where the water hit the concrete tool. It was a 4' bull float to find out later. I had just enough time to turn my head to one side. I still suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns to the right side of my face. My gear had to be sent in for some repairs. Bascily we where in the overhaul stage. Who would think that there would be that many concrete tools in a shed 4 miles south of town in the country. I believe he had over $8000.00 whorth of tools in there. He worked for the largest concrete company in the area. if I would have been wearing my SCBA mask I wouldn't have been burnt. But like I said we where in the overhaul stage. Stay Safe.

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    • #17
      your answer is Magnesium....in older vehicles such as the VW "bug", and there are some new model trucks that have Magnesium in the steering columns. Youll definetly know ther is mag. because youll get those Fourth of July fireworks...Extinguish with a LOT of water or i have seen a dry chemical put it completely out(if you know what your doing with the extinguisher!
      stay safe brothers
      Its not something you do,
      Its something you are.
      "Whether we bring the terrorists to justice, or we bring justice to the terroists...Justice WILL BE DONE"... President Bush
      Engineer
      Engine Co. # 1
      THESE ARE JUST MY OPINIONS AND OPINIONS ONLY!!!

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      • #18
        Just to clarify Fire Eater 07's post about dry chem extinguishers and magnesium fires...it's not dry chem..it's a Class D extinguisher with met-l-x dry powder that's formulated for extinguishing flammable metal fires. A dry powder extinguisher is painted yellow to differentiate it and will have a star symbol with the letter D in the middle to signify a class D extinguisher. A normal ABC dry chem won't extinguish a magnesium fire.
        ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
        Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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        • #19
          VW magnesium fires?Yer dating yerself Gonzo!Hehehe T.C,

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          • #20
            Watch under the hood on several cars...you will find mag. It is used on air cleaner covers on some GM cars. In the steering column of Crysler, GM has used it on Body panels and trim. Watch the sparks....they will burn right through bunker gear...and the skin under it.

            good Luck
            Firehose

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            • #21
              Rescue 101..we have a car repair facility (It's called the Pleasant Street Garage, only it's on Maple Street...go figure ) That specializes in the repair of VW's Audis and the like. There are still a few of the old Beetles out there...so beware!
              ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
              Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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              • #22
                Had the same thing happen on a late model Ford Taurus wagon...it will really wake you up at 3 in the morning.

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                • #23
                  Sorry to say that you have some magnesium in most newer cars today. What you saw was most definitely a magnesiom flash. Don't get hung up on the type of car though, just a few weeks ago we had an older model, chevy station wagon fully involved. We hit the rear compartment with a hose line and BOOM. Summertime in Illinois produces millions of weekend golfers. That's right, the irons are all magnesium. Quite a bit of it in a whole set of clubs. Stay Safe.

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                  • #24
                    We usually average 1 or two veh fires a shift
                    I know it sounds rediculous but I am stationed west of Fresno where they have one of the highest rates for stolen vehicles in the nation. We get so many we are known as the Car B-Que station. Enough horn blowing.
                    Heres the meat and potatoes. That spark show IS magnesium. Be careful with this stuff.
                    If it lands on your turnouts it will burn right through and wont stop till it cools off. It is found in the steering coulmns especially those late model vehicles with air bags. They use it to line the back part of the casing where the bag sits so when it explodes it will be propelled forward.
                    Most newer models timing covers,water pumps
                    A/C pumps, alternators and some radiator tanks are magnesium. You will also find custom wheels made of it. Wear your SCBA or
                    at least throw down your face shield. You dont'want this stuff on your skin.
                    Be careful of the late model luxury cars as they will most likely have side impact and under dash air bags.
                    I'll shut up now. Be careful. C-YA
                    IAFF

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                    • #25
                      I hate to dissapoint everybody on here who thinks they can use water to put out a mag fire. It just doesn't work like that. Sure the fire went out, but it wasn't due to water being applied, it went out because it burnt itself out. I have seen mag flares continue to burn even after they have been dumped in the ocean. The only way to put a mag fire out is to use some type of class D extinguishing agent.
                      When the defecation hits the oscillation I'll be there.

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                      • #26
                        Yeah, Ok, thanks for the hair-splitting, but reality is that you usually can't get close enough with the class D scoop to dump it on [or enough of it]. You're always gonna hit it with water first. So the water contains it [and protects you if you start to hit from far enough away] while it burns itself out. That's still how you need to handle 99% of these things. Most of us can't call the dozer brigade to push the car with the magnesium wheels off the pier anyway.

                        Havin' fun with ya xeno

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                        • #27
                          Definitely Magnesium..but I guess you figured that out by now. I am surprised that more areas don't have their training centers showing the reaction of Magnesium to water. In my Fire 1 class we had to put out Magnesium fires with water and then Class D to show us how this compound reacts to water as compared to MetlX. Lots of sparks and it spread out when hit with water. It was crazy. The main reason we did this in school is because the county I live in is surrounded by highways and we get called to plenty of car fires and accidents. It definitely helped me to realize how much full protective gear is needed at car fires. Having this sort of training in school might be something you want to mention to your Emergency Medical Services Coordinator to look at. I would hate to see someone get hurt because they didn't take it seriously. Magnesium is some tough stuff....it will go out eventually but it might hurt some people first if you are not careful. Stay safe out there.

                          [ 07-23-2001: Message edited by: hctrouble25 ]
                          Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

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                          • #28
                            Gonzo,my friend.You won't find many in my neck of the woods.You might find the motor but Mother Corrodent has long since eaten the car.As far as those who say you can't put out a mag fire with water,I've been around long enough to know better.Depends on the quality and quantity of the magnesium but you most certainly CAN put out the fire with water.Application and patience are the keys.I don't know anybody within a twenty mile radius of us who has class d powder.Not saying it isn't there,I just don't know of any.

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                            • #29
                              Yep, it was magnesium.
                              As for the trusty VW, we had one not too long ago in a non-hydrated area of all things. We roll up, rear of the car rockin', and start throwing the wet stuff. Sure enough, the fireworks start. The LT says, "Screw this" and while we used the bumper line to keep the fire in the engine area, we used the wagon's big ol' bumper to push the VW into the conveniently located spring-fed pond. End of story!
                              HazMat
                              ---
                              We gotta be nuts...we're running in when the rats & roaches are running out!

                              Let No Victim's Ghost Say That We Didn't Try
                              ---
                              Disclaimer:
                              These are my opinions, and only mine, and do not reflect the views of my department.

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                              • #30
                                Im pretty sure that V dub had an engine when we were finished, just a nice sized hole in the trans housing. For small quantities water may accellerate the process and burn up the fuel. For a larger quantity it can be cooled with flooding quantities of water. Other metals like titanium can't. As far as FF1 demos, we do them too.. they are great for training and a run at a machine shop, which almost always HAS Class D powder and probably put the fire out. We carry Class D and have had very little success with it because fires don't always burn in neat little piles on the ground. Again, how do you "layer powder" on a vertical surface?

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