Fire

Burnt-out Prado, was someone's pride and joy.

Burnt-out Prado, was someone's pride and joy.

Spinifex gathered under cruiser creates a fire hazard.

Spinifex gathered under cruiser creates a fire hazard.

Examples of vehicles with a shade cloth.

Examples of vehicles with a shade cloth.

Grass Hook - an essential piece of kit.

Grass Hook - an essential piece of kit.

Then it’s too Late!  Watching your pride and joy going up in smoke. Grass after rain, what a beautiful sight, but for the ‘Off Road Traveler’ it is potentially ‘very dangerous.’ The above photo is of a relatively new Prado, taken not far from Georgia Bore on the Canning. It can happen to you if you don’t follow a few simple steps.

  Now I’ve been on fire, or at least the car has. It’s no joy for someone who can’t walk or get out of the car in a hurry, my fellow travellers put it out, very quickly, I thank them for that.  The hazard is caused by the build up of grass in the chassis and exhaust system under your vehicle.

So what do you do? Well here are a few things that I do to stop the potential build up of grass. Use a ‘Shade Cloth’ Radiator blind. With this I cover the whole bull bar from under the bonnet over the bull bar and as far back as far I can under the front. There are two reasons why.

70% Shade Cloth keeps out most grass seeds, it a bit finer than fly wire, easier to use as well as tougher. Some pollen can still get through so you need to check the radiator often. By covering the bull bar and not the radiator grill gives you a greater surface are to breathe from, with it under the bonnet stops grass seed going over the bull bar into the radiator. You can use 90% shade cloth but it makes cars run hotter than they should.  See the photo

 Catalytic Converters are the greatest fire lighter there is, mainly due to the heat shield over them, grass gets caught between the two, catches fire very quickly. I take mine off.

 Spinifex wax on exhaust systems has a powerful odor, when you can smell this get out and look.

 I give everyone a grass hook, made from ¼ round, very efficient for getting out grass. When in grassy country check every half hour to start with, then see how thing go from there.\

A very dangerous time is when you have been traveling over grass slowly then get to a highway and speed up to 80 – 120kmh.  When you stop any grass will catch fire very quickly. Get all the grass out from under your carbefore you go scooting down the highway. Get yourself a hook, it can double as a Billy hook, a pair of disposable overalls for less than $20.00 a great idea, plus a space blanket to lie on & importantly several fire extinguishers.  A couple cans of hot beer or coke handy…shake and point at the fire.

A one litre pump garden sprayer, with soapy water will kill smoldering grass, and is useful to wash your hands.

Last thing, know where your exhaust is, don’t park on grass of any sort, and don’t park up some ones bum, when traveling in convoy leave enough room to get away if another car goes up in smoke, or park at a 30 degree angle.

 

Clare Fleming