Berkley Fleet Services recently sent out great information about the most common truck fires and what you as drivers can do to prevent these fires from occurring.
Under-inflated or flat tires:
Tire fires are commonly seen during summer months when heat is a factor. Tire fires are very difficult to extinguish and can flare up just when you think you have put it out.
The best way to avoid tire fires is prevention; do a thorough pre-trip inspection and don’t assume your tires are fully inflated, check them with a tire gauge. Re-check your tires when you stop and feel for excessive heat buildup and look for debris caught between your tires.
Hub or grease fires: These fires usually start as a result of a leaking hub (which a driver should catch during a pre-trip inspection). If you have a grease or oil fire around the hub, there is a good chance your tires will also catch on fire. Check often to ensure you don’t have any cracked or broken hubs.
Brake fires: These are usually a result of traveling on a downgrade in too high of a gear. A higher gear will cause the truck to pick up speed and drivers will have to use their brakes more frequently to slow the truck down. To prevent brake fires, use a lower gear on a downgrade and apply a slow, steady pressure to the service brake. On and off the brake adds oxygen and creates a greater heat buildup, which can lead to a brake fire.
Cargo fires: Cargo fires will depend on the cargo carried, but make no mistake: EVERYTHING can burn. Know your cargo and know how it is loaded. Be on the watch for signs of smoke or the smell of burning. If you do have a fire break out in the cargo area, always call emergency services. If the fire is in the trailer, disconnect the tractor from the trailer if you can. This will reduce a total equipment loss to just the cargo and trailer.
The best fire prevention tip is to know how to use your fire extinguisher and check it every time you do a pre-trip inspection. Keep your own safety in mind. Your life is worth far more than your equipment or load.