Mandate fire suppression system in all vehicles

The taxi that caught fire in the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway tunnel is the latest in a worrying trend of vehicle fires (Fire in KPE tunnel leads to evacuation; Aug 30).

Fire in a vehicle's engine compartment is difficult to overcome with a fire extinguisher, as the bonnet provides a natural barrier that prevents the extinguishing agent from reaching the core of the fire.

Unhinging and lifting up the bonnet to access the fire will only allow more air into the engine compartment, which further fuels the fire, thus posing serious risks to the person fighting the fire.

It is neither safe nor effective for an untrained person to attempt to fight a vehicle fire.

It is time that the authorities consider mandating that all vehicles be equipped with an automatic fire suppression system (AFSS).

The system, installed in the vehicle's engine compartment, provides an effective first line of defence in the event of a fire, without the need for human intervention.

Conventional AFSS consists of a steel cylinder that holds the extinguishing agent, detection line and discharge line with nozzles. But it costs thousands of dollars and is, therefore, not a cost-effective solution for the average car owner.

However, thanks to breakthroughs in technology, there are such systems available on the market at only a fraction of the cost, and without the unsightly hardware.

No effort should be spared in exploring the feasibility and effectiveness of this new-generation system in averting a disaster.

Leong Kok Hoe

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline 'Mandate fire suppression system in all vehicles'. Print Edition | Subscribe