The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes NFPA 921, “Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations” (1) on generally a three to four year cycle. This guide includes a chapter on the investigation of motor vehicle fires. For the new 2008 edition of this publication the SAE and the NFPA worked closely together in the revision of this chapter. This paper provides a broad overview of the revised chapter and summarizes the major revisions. By using SAE participation in the chapter revision, engineers familiar with or even directly involved in the design of the vehicle systems discussed, helped to develop many of the system descriptions included in the revised chapter.
The revised Motor Vehicle chapter like the parent document is both a consensus document and an effective guide which provides origin and cause analysis of motor vehicle fires, an investigative process consistent with principles stated throughout NFPA 921 and adherence to scientific methods.
In addition to more detailed vehicle component and system descriptions, there are revised charts on solid fuels, liquids and gases. New references and added paragraphs are also provided. Hybrid vehicles, electrical high resistance connections and medium and heavy duty trucks and buses are examples of new paragraphs.
In developing the revised chapter, technical teams were formed. A lead individual was selected to have prime responsibility. Members were given the opportunity to provide technical input and comment on each paragraph. The completed revised chapter is a consensus of the entire group. Additionally, the revised chapter with some revisions to the original proposal has met the NFPA 921 Technical Committee rigorous review process and this long term project awaits final publication.