The Mechanic – Engine Bay Fire Suppressors

With the summer holidays looming and
everybody planning their travels and holidays,
have you planned your maintenance and
checks of your VW in as much detail? It is
very important to keep your van maintained
properly, but with the hotter weather and
longer than usual journeys; even the most
well maintained engines can suffer problems,
such as perished or split fuel hoses. Something
such as a split fuel hose could mean really
bad news for classic (or even modern)
VW camper owners.
Every summer there are reports on social media
of at least one classic VW that has caught fire
and been lost. Although good maintenance
and preparation should prevent this, there is
always that small chance and a fire suppression
system will provide extra insurance against
losing your van to a fire.


Fire suppression systems are now readily
available and vary in function and cost.
There are manual systems that operate using a
lever and cable to activate the suppressor and
there are also automatic systems. Automatic
systems are preferential as they require no
input from the driver to activate.
Within the automatic suppressor range there
are two main systems that prove to be the
most popular.


The first one is a cylinder (much like a fire
extinguisher) that is mounted in the centre
of the engine bay over the engine and if a
fire occurs in the engine bay, the vial over the
nozzle melts, releasing a gas agent at 240 psi.
The nozzle is designed to ensure 360° dispersal,
meaning that the gas will completely fill the
engine bay. The gas is released at -19°C so will
cool down the engine bay helping to prevent
any re-ignition of petrol vapour. This system is a
small scale version of what is used within oil rigs.

The second automatic system is also a cylinder,
but rather than mounting the cylinder directly
over the engine, the cylinder is mounted
within the engine bay (usually) but out of the
way, (usually the left rear side of the engine
bay is most spacious). This system uses a linear
detection tubing which is installed throughout
the engine compartment. This tubing can not
only quickly and accurately detect a fire but
also extinguish it before it can damage adjacent
components. The tubing is connected to the
cylinder valve and charged with nitrogen or
compressed air. This pressure is utilised to hold
back the extinguishing powder in the cylinder.
Should a high temperature or fire occur, the
pressurised tubing will burst and the powder
will be deployed from the burst hole directly
onto the fire.
Both systems are fully automatic and come
with a full fitting kit.
Fitting is relatively simple and requires no
wiring or electrical input.
The first system with the 360° dispersal nozzle
can be purchased for approximately £60-
£100 and the second system that utilizes the
linear detection tubing can be purchased for
approximately £180-£250.
The design is personal choice and we would
not merit one over the other, but The Mechanic
has had experience of fitting the second system
and found it simple

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