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Volunteer firefighter stops fire in his Mustang

In this episode of FireTalk we interview volunteer firefighter, Ethan Volz. Ethan is also a car enthusiast who recently had a fire in his Fox Body Mustang after doing some modifications. Ethan was glad he had our extinguisher installed and ready. You can hear the whole story here.

Teresa:
Hi everyone and welcome to Firetalk. I am very excited to have Ethan Volz with me here today. Ethan, how are you doing?

Ethan:
I'm doing pretty good.

Teresa:
Good! Thanks so much for joining us. So let's dive right in, I wanted to start by asking how you found out about H3R performance extinguishers and what made you pick one for your vehicle.

Ethan:
It was a few years ago. I'm not really sure if it was on Summit or social media, but I always saw the product and I was like, well one day I'll put this in.

I ended up ordering it after I finished putting in a roll cage on my Mustang. I figured if it needed a roll cage it was pretty serious, and I probably should have something in case of a fire. Most roll cages aren't very easy to get in and out of with a five-point harness. So, the idea was to get the small compact extinguisher for my person, and worry about the car later.

Teresa:
Right! So tell us a little bit more about yourself and your build, the car that we're discussing.

Ethan:
Well, I'm born and raised in the middle of Illinois, so there's not much around here. I'm about the same distance from Chicago as I am from Saint Louis. Basically corn and beans! So if it's not a Friday Night Football game, it's a bunch of friends tinkering with their toys. That's kind of how I got into motorsports.

The car is a 1993 Fox body Mustang. I think I actually bought it as a 4-cylinder automatic and converted it to a 5-lug V8 manual. Drove it like that for about a month and it was kind of fun and then decided, you know what would make this more fun is a turbo! So I added a turbo to it, and then I found every weak link from that point.

Teresa:
And I think you mentioned to me, are you volunteer firefighter as well?

Ethan:
I am. I'm on the Volunteer Fire Department in our area. So I'm fire two certified and have been a volunteer for six years. I've been involved in accidents, fires, and can see pretty much what happens if you're not prepared in an incident.

Teresa:
That leads us to talking about the fire, 'cause the whole reason we are having this conversation is you had a fire and you had to use it. What happened and how did that go?

Ethan:
Unfortunately, I had a little bit of a thermal event. This was a couple of weeks ago during a routine shakedown of the car. I was taking it out and playing with the tuning, kind of getting ready for my next big event, if not just test drive.

At some point, the blowby breather on my valve cover came off. I had no knowledge of this or anything like that. All my manifolds are wrapped with header wrap so that oil was able to run down and soak into the header wrap. At some point, it started to off-gas enough to where it ignited. I had no idea of this as I was driving down the road until I started kind of smelling something that didn't seem right. I wasn't too far from home, so I just figured I'd stretch it and try to get home before anything bad happened.

On the last leg in the corner. The car died and I heard that awful sound “Whoosh” And I could tell the fire was breathing. The extinguisher, I had it mounted at the top center of my roll cage, so I popped it off, opened the door, and popped the hood. When the oxygen got to it, it probably tripled in size. I pulled the pin and hit the hottest part that I could see, and completely knocked it down. I kept hold of the trigger and it just kept going and going, and I was extremely surprised considering it was the smallest extinguisher you guys offered.

You know, I didn't think anything like it could put out a complete engine bay fire other than, hey, maybe this is probably nice to have for my own person or my passenger.

So the fire was completely extinguished. I wasn't too far from home, so I ended up walking home and getting my Jeep, and towing it home. Very little damage, really no time lost. The engine got hot, unfortunately, but other than a little paint from my hood and a melted master cylinder, the car is in remarkable shape for the event that occurred.

Teresa:
It's so great you had it mounted close, and that's something we try to stress to people. Because fires can double in size in like 30 seconds, so you don't have a lot of time to get your extinguisher and get to it. Given your credentials as a volunteer firefighter, is there any other advice you would give people?

Ethan:
Having an extinguisher, jumper cables, or a patch kit could always help you in the long term. But always be prepared and expect the worst.

Teresa:
Well, thanks again so much for joining us and for taking the time to do this. We really appreciate it and I'm sure your story will really be of benefit to other people.

Ethan:
Thank you for having me. I really hope that people can kind of reflect on this, see themselves in my shoe as I've seen others, and be prepared.

 

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