Thunder Bay Fire Rescue says Check your Block Heater Cords

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue
Thunder Bay Fire Rescue

THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Thunder Bay Fire Rescue would like to take this opportunity to remind automobile owners and drivers to be aware of the potential for vehicle fires during the cold winter months and the fire hazards associated with plugging in to vehicle block heaters.

Platoon Chief John Kaplan’s says that “Thunder Bay Fire Rescue has seen a number of vehicle fires in recent days as the temperature drops severely overnight while drivers attempt to keep their vehicle engines warm overnight”.

Block heaters are often necessary to ensure easy starts on cold mornings, however there are some hazards that must be kept in mind. While block heaters are generally very safe and provide the minimum amount of heat required to maintain warm engine blocks, the electrical wiring associated with plugging in block heaters CAN be a potential source of fire ignition.

IF any electrical cords are frayed or cracked, this can expose electrical wiring and causing the risk of a potential short circuit or heat build-up at the point where the wire is compromised or exposed.

Extension cords for plugging in block heaters should be CSA approved and of medium or heavy gauge wire.

They should feature a three prong plug end (featuring a ground wire in the extension cord). A ground fault receptacle is recommended to be used at the power source for plugging in a vehicle block heater.

Vehicle block heater wiring should be inspected for cracks or faults. It is advised to seek the assistance of a licensed electrician or vehicle mechanic to inspect vehicle block heater wiring, if there is any concern about hazards.

What to do if you experience a vehicle fire!?

  • At TBFR our first priority is life safety – so immediately evacuate vehicle occupants and keep bystanders away from the vehicle in the event of a fire.
  • If it is possible to safely move the vehicle away from other vehicles or buildings, then do so.
  • Try to extinguish the fire safely using an ABC rated fire extinguisher – but ONLY if it is safe to do so! If heat and smoke from the fire is growing rapidly, then move away from the vehicle and call 911 – let Fire Fighters handle the fire – that is what they are trained to do.


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