Chassis Components, Engine Company, Fire Department

Reviewing Ford’s Fire Suppression System

Issue 11 and Volume 11.

Ford is equipping some Crown Victoria police interseptor models with fire suppression systems.
Ford is equipping some its Crown Victoria police interseptor models with fire suppression systems. They are designed to activate during rear-impact accidents, deploying chemical agents to reduce the spread of fire.
Ford is offering the fire suppresson system on police interceptor Crown Victoria models.
Ford is offering the fire suppression system on police interceptor Crown Victoria models. When arriving on the scene, firefighters should look for indications to determine whether the cruiser has the option.
A sticker in the rear window on the passenger side is an indication the vehicle has the option
A sticker in the rear window on the passenger side is a quick indication the vehicle has the option.
A manual deployment switch is located between the front sun visors. It indicates the option is present.
A manual deployment switch is located between the front sun visors. It indicates the option is present.

Since 2005, Ford has offered a fire suppression system in its Crown Victoria police interceptor. It is designed to decrease injuries in rear-impact situations by deploying a chemical suppression agent to reduce the spread of fire.

It is a good idea to help protect the occupants, but it is important that firefighters and first responders know about this feature, not only to use it for fire suppression, but also to use caution during extrication if the system has not deployed.

The system consists of two stainless steel containers that hold the fire suppressant material and gas generators that pressurize and deploy the fire suppressant. There are two manifold assemblies, each equipped with two deployable nozzles, which spray the fire suppressant down onto the ground.

Additionally there is a manifold, mounted high with two fixed nozzles, which sprays the fire suppressant material up and into the body. An electronic control module (located under the rear seat) contains a rear crash sensor, which is the system’s processing computer. The system activates in a very high speed, high-energy rear impact collision.

Identifying a Crown Victoria police interceptor equipped with a fire suppression system is easy. Look for the suppression system logo on the rear door windows or the manual activation switch between the sun visors. This allows the system to be used when other fire conditions exist.

Backup Power

There is also a large electrical capacitor that provides backup power if vehicle electrical power is lost. The system is equipped with two redundant wiring harnesses running between the control module and the gas generators. Each harness is protected to guard against damage during a high-energy crash.

This provides redundancy and allows damage without disabling the system’s functionality.

The system of crash sensors and high-speed electronic processors determines whether the system should deploy. The system then delays deployment until the ABS wheel sensors indicate the wheels have slowed and the vehicle is stopping. If the vehicle speed sensors have been so damaged that they are unable to command deployment, a back-up timer will deploy the system six seconds after impact.

Fire Suppression Material

The fire suppression materials are stored in an unpressurized liquid state. When the deploy signal is given, two gas generators, similar to those used in airbags, generate high-pressure gas.

Suppressant and surfactant materials are then emitted through a manifold and nozzle system that suppresses the fire. Surfactant reduces the surface tension of the liquid fire suppressant, enabling the liquid to spread quickly and completely along the same gasoline path from the vehicle.

The fire suppression materials are not hazardous. The suppression agent is 17 percent ethylene glycol, 2 percent diethlene glycol monobutyl ether, and the remaining 81 percent are inactive ingredients.

The suppression agent is a mild irritant but not hazardous. If in contact with the agent, flush with water and seek medical attention if irritation persists. If excessively inhaled, move into fresh air, provide oxygen if breathing is difficult, and seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

If ingested, give no more than two glasses of water, only one for children, induce vomiting and seek medical attention immediately.

Cleaning up after deployment is simple using a hoseline to wash the material off the accident area. Remove as much of the dry traces as possible.

The suppressant may be slippery on some surfaces. The amount of suppression agent in the system is usually not enough to cause foaming in storm drains or waterways.

Handling non-deployed systems involved in an accident is simple. Disconnect the negative battery cable and wait at least one minute for the system capacitor to drain its power supply before moving or working around the vehicle. Once this is done the fire suppression system is neutralized and secured.

Let us move on to something that is just as important, but a little philosophical. By the time you are reading this issue we will be well into the holiday season.

The holidays bring us all together no matter what our beliefs are. It is a season of renewed hope, believing and giving thanks, traditions and family.

Follow me on this one.

Personally, family is the most important of the above mentioned. Whether it is your own family, department family or the community family we serve, they all play an important role in our lives, especially during the holidays.

Spend some extra time with your family and friends this holiday season, not just time – quality time. Do something special with your loved ones. Too often we get caught up in the “business” and lose sight of what is really important.

Spend Time With Family

What about the department family? For the department and company officers out there, spend some quality time doing things in the station. When was the last time you, as an officer, spent some good quality time at the station? Maybe you should help prepare a meal or just hang out with the guys. Take the lead role and promote a little holiday cheer.

What about inviting the member’s families to a holiday dinner with the crews or a visit from Santa at the station? How about decorating and riding on a fire department float in the Christmas parade for the department’s kids?  Think about getting the gang together to place a Christmas tree on top of the engine house or hanging wreaths on the apparatus.

As for our community family, how about continuing the good guy image and spread goodwill to the less fortunate. Giving back to the community goes a long way. It not only does the department’s public image good, but it helps support the needy. When was the last time your department did something like this?

Fond Holiday Memories

One of my fondest memories is when the department I was serving worked together with the local food bank and distributed food to less fortunate families in the community for the holidays.

With the food bank vehicle loaded up, Santa riding on the Junior Hose Company’s 1936 Ward Lafrance, one of our engines and the chief’s car in the line up, we started making our rounds in the community. The brief time we spent with the families and the kids we encountered made it all worth it. The “thank yous” and the relief on the recipients’ faces when they realized they could provide their families a nice holiday meal, showed us we were doing something good.

We touched one little boy in a second floor apartment with a personal visit from Santa. That five or 10-minute visit not only created a memory he would never forget, but it forged a very positive image of the fire department and its staff. It made us all feel good too.

Remember, the community and the department need each other. These acts remind us we are all family.

So, in this holiday season, spend time with your families, create some department traditions or resurrect some old ones.

Make some personal and professional resolutions this New Year, and make a department wish list and send it off to Santa, or the Chief, if the budget has not been approved yet.

As always, be safe, spend some quality time with loved ones and return to quarters.

Editor’s Note: Allen Baldwin is the manager of operations and incident response for the Pennsylvania Turnpike commission and a volunteer captain with the Gettysburg (Pa.) Fire Department. He has been a firefighter and EMT for over 25 years, once serving as a career fire chief. He is an instructor with the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy and several community colleges.

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