It’s sad that it takes a tragedy for people to take notice of safety issues.  From building codes to laws to rules in racing, it is tragedy that drives change.  Fire has always been the greatest risk in racing.  However, technology has evolved to mitigate some of that risk.

Today’s race car fire suppression systems use a chemical called Dupont FE-36.  It was developed specifically for motorsports.  It is SFI approved, does not obscure vision, doesn’t impede the safety crew, and leaves no chemical residue or costly clean-up.  These are not traditional fire extinguishers.  In each of the systems shown here, when the system is triggered, it releases the entire bottle of FE-36.  The driver can then focus on getting free from the car.

When choosing a system, there are 3 types: manual, automatic, and a combination of manual or automatic.  Manual systems are triggered by the driver, while automatic systems are triggered by a temperature sensor.  Here are 2 of the most popular systems in each category:

Manual Systems

Firebottle RC-500 5# Manual Fire Suppression SystemFire Bottle RC-500, 5# Manual System

Manufactured by Fire Bottle Fire Suppression Systems, the RC-500 system is a 5 pound manual pull system.  The 5 pound weight refers to the amount of chemical.  Altogether, the bottle weighs 9 pounds.  This system comes with 2 nozzles.  In most cases, it will be installed so that one nozzle is directed at the driver, and the other is directed at the engine compartment.

To activate, the driver pulls a cable.  The entire bottle will release at that time.

Advantages: Protects 2 areas, Lightweight
Disadvantages: Leaves 1 area unprotected, manual system won’t activate if driver is unconscious.
Cost: $418.49+

 

Fire Bottle RC-1000, 10# Manual SystemFire Bottle RC-1000, 10# Manual System

Similar to the RC-500 system, the RC-1000 is an upgraded version.  It features 10 pounds of FE-36 and includes 3 nozzles.  The system weighs in at 17 lbs.  The third nozzle allows a team to direct the fire suppression chemical to the driver, the engine compartment, and the fuel cell area.  Like the RC-500 system, it is activated when the driver pulls the cable.

Advantages: Protects 3 areas, Lightweight
Disadvantages: Manual system won’t activate if driver is unconscious.
Cost: $622.03+

 

Automatic Systems

Fire Bottle FC-1000, 10# Automatic Fire Suppression SystemFire Bottle FC-1000, 10# Automatic Fire Suppression System

As the title suggests, this Fire Bottle system is automatic.  This system is used to suppress fire in the fuel compartment.  It includes a temperature sensor that is housed within a rugged guard that also contains a nozzle.  When the temperature sensor is triggered at 170 degrees, it releases the 10 pounds of FE-36 chemical automatically.  It weighs in at 17 pounds total and is available with a 1’, 5’, or 7’ hose line.

Advantages: Automatic system will activate if driver is unconscious. Protects 1 area.
Disadvantages: Leaves 2 areas unprotected. 
Cost: $612.63+

 

 

Safecraft AT10HEG Automatic Fire Suppression SystemSafecraft AT10HEG Automatic Fire Suppression System

The Safecraft system is also automatic.  This is the system used by NASCAR.  It includes a temperature sensor that is housed within a rugged guard.  When the temperature sensor is triggered, it releases the 10 pounds of FE-36 chemical automatically.  This system is used to suppress fire in the fuel compartment.  It weighs in at 15 pounds total.

Advantages: Automatic system will activate if driver is unconscious. Protects 1 area, Lightweight
Disadvantages: Leaves 2 areas unprotected.  Higher cost than other systems.
Cost: $883+

 

Automatic or Manual Systems

Fire Bottle AMRC-500, 5# Automatic or Manual Fire Suppression SystemFire Bottle AMRC-500, 5# Automatic or Manual Fire Suppression System

This system combines the best of both worlds.  It includes 5# of FE-36 and 3 lines.  The line intended for the fuel cell area includes a temperature sensor that is automatically triggered at 170 degrees.  The other 2 lines are triggered by a manual pull cable.  It weighs in at 10 pounds total and is available with a 1’, 5’, or 7’ hose line for the fuel cell.

Advantages: Automatic system will activate if driver is unconscious. Driver can also control activation.  Protects all 3 areas.  Lightweight.
Disadvantages: None 
Cost: $518.49+

 

 

Fire Bottle AMRC-1000, 10# Automatic or Manual Fire Suppression SystemFire Bottle AMRC-1000, 10# Automatic or Manual Fire Suppression System

This system is the upgraded version of the AMRC-500.  It includes 10# of FE-36 and 4 lines.  The line intended for the fuel cell area includes a temperature sensor that is automatically triggered at 170 degrees.  The other 3 lines are triggered by a manual pull cable.  It weighs in at 17 pounds total and is available with a 1’, 5’, or 7’ hose line for the fuel cell.

Advantages: Automatic system will activate if driver is unconscious. Driver can also control activation.  Protects all 3 areas.  Additional chemical increases effectiveness of the system.
Disadvantages: None 
Cost: $694+

 

Update: December 2016

 Lucas Oil and the World Racing Group have mandated a system for their series.  While these series are not Crate Series, their rules are being adopted by other Sanctioning Bodies.  We now offer: 

amrc-1002-275x275.jpgFire Bottle AMRC-1002, Lucas Oil System

This system is similar to the AMRC-1000.  It includes 10# of FE-36. Each AMRC has two lines that would be automatically set off, one at 24″ and the other at 84″. Also has 3 Manually operated nozzles, one suggested for the cockpit and the others in the engine compartment.  It weighs in at 18 pounds total.

Advantages: Automatic system will activate if driver is unconscious. Driver can also control activation.  Protects all 3 areas.  Additional chemical increases effectiveness of the system.
Disadvantages: None 
Cost: $794.32+

 

Conclusion

We hope this guide serves to inform and explain the differences in the available systems.  We also hope to encourage more racers to include this safety feature into their racing programs.  There are many other fire suppression systems available.  We have highlighted some of the most popular.  The systems shown here are available in the safety and fire suppression section of our online store at www.crateinsider.com.