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Simple preventative measures can go a long way in warding off engine compartment fires

In May 2019, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) held its first heavy vehicle fire roundtable in Brisbane. It was a result of an ongoing investigation following a series of fires last year involving primemovers. The regulator announced its plans to release a series of safety bulletins to help raise awareness of the common fire risks that have been identified in the probe and to outline the actions required to help mitigate the risks.

NHVR executive director of safety standards and assurance Geoff Casey said the May roundtable, which brought together leading forensic fire investigators, fire service officials, police and members of the heavy vehicle industry and supply chain, was aimed at identifying causes and preventative actions.

The NHVR bulletin identified a number of common fire risks in heavy motor vehicles, predominantly:

  • shorting of electrical cables and connections
  • inappropriately rated electrical components
  • fuel line failures
  • heat generated by a turbocharger
  • engine bay maintenance
  • It also outlined preventative actions that operators should undertake, including:
  • reviewing the common causes of fires and identifying those that may be present in their fleet
  • reviewing maintenance management systems to remove or reduce any risk factors, and improve the safety of their transport activities
  • ensuring those who carry out servicing or modification on higher-risk components or systems on their vehicles, such as electrical systems, have measures in place to verify that fire risks are not introduced.

  • Spitwater, one of the leading Australian manufacturers of high pressure water cleaners, talks to Owner//Driver magazine about one of the most common fire risks in heavy vehicles and how to prevent it.

    “Engine compartment fires are a reality,” Spitwater director Gary Rodgers says. “However, some simple maintenance and cleaning can prevent this from happening.” Rodgers shares a few tips that can help reduce the risk of such fires, including:

  • keeping the engine and the engine compartment clear of fuel and oil residue through regular cleaning
  • identification and timely repair of fuel and oil leaks
  • maintaining efficient electrical connections
  • carrying out regular checks for leaks and wiring condition.


    The importance of a clean engine bay cannot be overstated. But not everyone has the proper knowledge how to perform this important task. Spitwater has outlined a step-by-step cleaning method that can help you maintain a clean engine bay:

    •Prepare your pressure washer, degreaser and applicator for action

    •Allow the engine to cool before cleaning as applying chemical or water to a hot engine can create problems, particularly electricals

    •Fasten or remove any loose items such as covers or guards to avoid damage from chemical or water

    •Disconnect the negative terminal on the battery – this will help protect electrical components from being damaged by water

    •Use plastic bags or wrapping to cover any sensitive areas including ECU’s or air intakes

    •Spray the engine and surrounds with degreaser using an applicator sprayer or soft brush to assist the cleaning before applying any water

    •Depending on the grime level allow between three minutes to 20 minutes dwell time for the degreaser to work, and repeat the process if necessary

    •Clean off using your pressure washer and then pass over once more for a final rinse avoiding any sensitive areas.

    Spitwater says this simple method can go a long way in preventing engine compartment fires. While any pressure washer can be used for this task, Spitwater says using a hot water pressure washer will produce the best results. It also recommends using a good quality degreaser such as Nerta Super Degreaser. The degreaser must be applied with a pump up sprayer for best results.

    Spitwater Pressure Washers

    To find these and other high-quality products, head to your nearest Spitwater distribution centres in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The company also has dealers and distributors throughout each state and territory, all offering sales, parts and service support to customers. The Spitwater brand of high pressure water cleaners, vacuum cleaners, extraction cleaners, Jetfire heaters and dryers have a long-standing history of proven quality and reliability across the Australian marketplace.

    Operating since 1983, today Spitwater is the only Australian manufacturer of a complete range of high pressure water cleaners. All products are manufactured at Spitwater’s 15,000 square metre manufacturing facility in Albury, New South Wales using the latest state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies. The company also distributes a range of fan forced, popular, portable industrial space heaters as well as a high-quality range of industrial and commercial vacuum cleaners.

    For more details, visit  www.spitwater.com.au.


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