man putting out a small fire with a handheld extinguisher
tops of three fire extinguisher bottles
close up an A,B and C label on a fire extinguisher
fire extinguisher mounted on a vehicle roll bar
fire extinguisher mounted on a truck roll bar
fire extinguisher mounted on a race car roll bar
fire extinguisher mounted on a vehicle roll bar
close up of pressure gauge on a fire extinguisher

To efficiently put out a fire you want to aim at the base of the fire and then sweep the extinguisher back and forth.

From left to right are a plastic fire extinguisher that you would find at a big box store, an H3R MaxOut ABC extinguisher, and an H3R HalGuard BC extinguisher. Note the difference in nozzles on the H3R extinguishers, which make it easy to tell them apart at a glance.

H3R’s MaxOut Fire Extinguishers are rated for A, B, and C fires. This makes them a great choice to store in your vehicle. They are available in 1, 2.5, and 5 pound bottles in either traditional red, black, or chrome.

H3R HalGuard units are only B, C rated and they are more expensive than the MaxOut, but the advantage is that Halon will not leave the mess of a dry chemical extinguisher like the MaxOut, making cleanup easier and reducing the likelihood of electronics damage.

H3R extinguishers come with a metal mount that we installed on this cage with simple hose clamps for secure, economical mounting. Summit Racing offers a variety of mounting options from H3R and others to fit nearly any application and budget.

This mounting method assures that the fire extinguisher will be there when you need it, but actually removing the extinguisher from the duct tape poses a problem. There are more effective mounting methods.

This quick release mount from All Star Performance uses aluminum construction and hose clamps to attach to any size roll cage tubing. Once the single pin is pulled the entire extinguisher can be reached quickly and easily when you need it most.

Quality fire extinguishers feature a gauge that will inform you whether the extinguisher is properly pressurized or not. Inspect extinguishers on a regular basis and service any that are out of spec or damaged. It is not necessary to replace a high quality extinguisher like those from H3R, they can typically be serviced locally.

No one plans to have a fire on the trail, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you bury your head in the sand about this possibility, you will likely find yourself shoveling that same sand at your rig as it erupts into flames. That’s why it’s wise to have a fire extinguisher or two mounting someplace on your vehicle.

Like most things in four-wheeling–and in life–fire extinguishers can be a compromise. Ideally you want an extinguisher that is easy to access and big enough to put out any fire. At the same time, you want the extinguisher securely mounted out of the way and compact enough to fit anywhere. Luckily, there are solutions that are tailored specifically for motorsports use and mounting systems that are designed to hold your extinguisher securely in place, yet easy to access.

Fire extinguishers fall into three general categories: Type A, Type B, and Type C.

Type A fires would include things like your campfire or a structure fire. Type A extinguishers work on wood, paper, cloth, trash, and other common materials. Type B is for gasoline, oil, and paint, so this is a good choice for vehicles and to keep in the garage. Type C extinguishers are for electrical fires, which are a common source of vehicle fires as well. The best option is a combination fire extinguisher that covers all of these types of fires. Summit Racing sells everything from one-pound chrome extinguishers that are perfect for hot rods and show trucks, to full race halon fire suppression systems that can be activated with the push of a button.

For most recreational off-roaders, a pair of 2.5-pound extinguishers mounted to the rollcage strike a balance between preparedness, price, and ease of mounting. We chose one H3R MaxOut extinguisher and one HalGuard fire extinguisher for our 4×4.

Why one of each?

The more expensive HalGuard is rated for B and C fires and puts out the flames without doing any additional harm to the vehicle or electronics. The MaxOut is A/B/C-rated and is less expensive, using a dry chemical instead of halon. By carrying both, we can deal with a fire with the halon extinguisher first, and then move to the MaxOut if the halon version isn’t effective (say, if there’s a wood fire on the trail). Plan C is to start shoveling dirt to smother the fire.

You don’t want to just toss the extinguisher behind the seat, where it can become a projectile during a rollover and do more harm than good. Summit Racing carries a variety of mounts to fit any application or budget, and we ensured that our extinguishers were securely mounted, yet easy to reach. Like us, you’ll want to check your fire extinguisher regularly to ensure that it is charged and in proper working order.  You should also know how your fire extinguisher functions before you have to use it.

Part of the appeal of four-wheeling is getting away from civilization, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared before leaving the pavement.