Whether a company operates dump trucks, bulldozers, earth movers or other types of off-road vehicles, keeping them safe and running at peak efficiency is a top priority. However, due to their complex mechanical systems and intense operating conditions, off-road vehicles have a higher than average fire risk. 
  • They often use several kinds of combustible liquids in their mechanical systems, including fuel (gasoline or diesel), oil, grease for lubrication and hydraulic fluid.
  • With their powerful motors, they tend to create a great deal of heat.
  • They often have more than one motor, so there are also more sources of heat, which presents a risk for ignition.
  • Commercial off-road vehicles tend to be driven for long periods of time, even running day and night in some cases.
  • In the course of their operation, they are more likely to accumulate debris on the frame and under the chassis, because they are not driven on clean-paved roads. 
Many companies choose to have a fire suppression system installed on commercial off-road vehicles because of their increased fire risk and the large monetary investment they require. This is a prudent investment that can save thousands of dollars, and even lives. Yet, the best fire protection is to prevent a fire from occurring in the first place.

A good prevention plan will focus on regular professional inspection and maintenance of high-risk areas of the vehicle, including the electrical system, engine blocks, exhaust manifolds, turbochargers and braking systems. Also, scheduled cleaning of accumulated debris and any areas where flammable liquid flows through or is stored is highly recommended.

Regularly check connections and hoses for any signs of leaks. Inspect electrical wires as well, and repair and replace any frayed wires. Finally, keep in mind that combustible dust can accumulate on the vehicle during operation, and this should be cleaned off to minimize the risk of a fire.

A comprehensive plan should include a full-scale fire suppression system as well. Any damage to an off-road vehicle is not the only cost associated with a fire. If equipment is disabled, the downtime that the entire operation suffers (while a repair is performed or a replacement vehicle is located) can be exponentially more expensive than the fire damage itself—not to mention the potential for serious injuries for machine operators.

The best way to avoid this type of costly scenario is to partner with a leader in commercial off-road vehicle fire suppression. Choose a company that can install, inspect, maintain and even design a custom suppression system for any off-road vehicle to keep operations and equipment protected and running as they should. 


Jeff Wyatt is president of Indianapolis-based Koorsen Fire and Security. For more information, email jeff.wyatt@koorsen.com