Firefighters douse a car fire near Jamal Abdul Nasser Street. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Sharjah: A spate of vehicles catching fire on the UAE roads have spurred the authorities to raise awareness among road users.

One of the frequently occurring mishaps in the UAE, especially during summers, vehicle fires have become the focus of several road safety campaigns. Police across the UAE were called in to attend to at least ten such incidents in the past few days.

In light of these incidents, Sharjah Civil Defence is urging motorists to conduct regular maintenance checks on their vehicles to prevent fires.

Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, told Gulf News that most vehicle fires were the result of human negligence.

The leading causes for such fires according to investigators, Col Al Naqbi said, are improper maintenance of electrical systems, illegal modifications to the vehicle and smoking inside the car.

Collision between vehicles was also a cause for fire incidents, he added.

“Vehicles involved in an accident can catch fire if the collision affects the fuel-related parts of the vehicle or if there is an electrical spark in the engine which ignites leaking fuel,” he said.

Col Al Naqbi said a fire or explosion during car accidents can result from a spark caused by friction or an electrical charge from the engine.

“A spark will result from friction between two solid bodies (two vehicles or the vehicle against the pavement), and the electrical charge will result from the engine.

“Generally, the causes of collisions and then explosions or fires are due to either the vehicle or the motorist,” he said.

Regarding the vehicle, he explained that flaws in the manufacturing [of the vehicle], its maintenance or faulty tyres could cause a collision.

But in the case of motorists, reckless driving, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fatigue or failure to pay full attention to the road lead to accidents.

Col Al Naqbi said the best way to combat fires is to prevent them by following simple safety precautions such as regular maintenance of vehicles by specialised technicians, daily monitoring of the car’s water and temperature levels, keeping the fuel tank cap tightly closed to avoid leakage, avoiding smoking inside the vehicle and turning off the engine when filling the fuel tank.

Also, a fire extinguisher should always be present in the car, he said.

“The vehicle fire incidents were due to a lack of awareness among motorists and car owners on the need to have a fire extinguisher in the vehicle, as well as failure to perform regular [vehicle] maintenance.”

Summer fires

Sharjah Civil Defence also has put in place a comprehensive plan to control fire incidents during summer.

Col Al Naqbi urged Sharjah residents to ensure that the transformers and electrical connections in buildings are functioning efficiency, and avoid the use of poor quality electrical cables or extension plugs for appliances/devices such as refrigerators, heaters, air-conditioners and suction fans.

Col Al Naqbi also stressed the need to ensure the availability of safety requirements for cookers and examine all electricity and gas connections at home and repair any faults if found by hiring professional technicians.