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Thread: Motorsport is dangerous Darmstadts inferno and tremendous safety issues at FS Italy

  1. #11
    Hey guys, thanks for all your replies!

    I think I got a bit misunderstood in my third point (due to a wrong formulation):

    Concerning an onboard fire extinguisher I mean a system in the back of the car and/or near the fule cell like 3 or 4 small CO2 or powder cartridges which can be activated from within the cockpit by a sort of an ejection seat mechanism.
    Another CO2 cartridge could be placed within the cockpit area to prevent flames from attacking the driver at least for some seconds.

    Hell no, the driver doesn't have to take an extinguisher from underneath the car. This would be rubbish indeed

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Canberra, Australia
    Thats the kind of thing I was getting at, but I was thinking of a singular bottle with hoses feeding off it to different places, like an aircraft or full race car fire supression system.

    While its a nice idea im a big fan of the get out and run approach. I think "get away from the fire" is enough for someone to think about, let the guys on the side deal with putting it out.

    Thats my thoughts
    Matthew Chapman

    ADFA Racing

  3. #13
    "The-get-out-and-run-approach" Perhaps the running should be implemented in the 5s ejection test

    Seriously, design of a fire surpressing system would be a great engineering task. Perhaps in future terms an extra category for safety on racecars should be judged seperately or within the design competition.

    Later in industry huge attention is drawn on safety in many ways. So teams could be honored when using safety devices like impact safe PBO or aramide fibres in the side of their monocoques or pitched up side walls to protect a drivers head from accelerating too much during a side impact.
    Sorry to the teams using such a device but i am always scared when seeing aluminium or even magnesium space frames on FSAE cars. They always remind me of crumpling a coke can when thinking of an accident.

  4. #14
    On the issue of on-board extinguishers:

    My P91 Crown Vic has an on-board automatic fire suppression system (Because the Fuel Tank is right in front of the Rear Axle). It consists of some canisters that are designed to open on one end when the temperature becomes so high, releasing a fire suppressant and choking the fire (In theory). I haven't looked too deeply into it, but if such a system was available commercially, it could be a huge bonus in terms of safety.
    Wild Hare Racing:

    The Heat and Power Lab
    Rest in Pieces

  5. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    the problem with a fire suppression system will be, that it has to be actuated. In the panic situation of a fire the driver is very likely to forget that.

    In my opinion its the organizers who have to make sure that enough fire extinguishers are issued to the marshals and that they actually use them.

  6. #16
    I'm very surprised they still only require an SFI 3-2A/1 fire suit. If the egress is 5 seconds, and stopping from 60 MPH takes 5 seconds, the drivers should really be wearing SFI 3-2A/5, which gives 10 seconds until 2nd degree burns, up from 3 seconds.

    And if the driver is panicking, can't see, etc, this is just more time for the track officials to get the fire out.
    Matt Brown

  7. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Modena, Italy
    I would tend to agree that the cost and complexity of an onboard extinguisher system would be prohibitive to many teams.

    I think that with the 5 second egress and more/better trained marshals fire shouldn't ever cause an injury in FSAE - and to date it hasn't (to my knowledge) despite a number of fires over the years.

    This is ONLY because there is very very little chance of a driver being trapped in an FSAE car which is where an onboard system would save injury.

    However, for the cases where these cars are taken on hillclimbs etc (which is the target market??) then you could very possibly find yourself stuck under the car wedged up against a tree with the car on fire.

    In short, I don't think they should be mandated for the competition, but I think you could justify including one in the design/cost events pretty easily.


  8. #18
    Very good discussion. But aren't we forgetting the area where the most progress can be made?
    I'm talking about the level of the marshals. I know that they're volunteers and everything, but at the moment I would not feel comfortable placing my life in the hands of most of them. To be honest I don't know what kind of briefing they get before comp or what kind of qualification they need to be a marshal.

    But perhaps it's not a bad idea to put some effort (from organization side) into giving a crash-course into fire-extinguishing, getting panicing driver of the car etc the day before the comp starts. Also a booklet with some general how-to-handles in case of crashes and fires. If you makes this available to marshals well before the start of the comp, they have time to read it and at comp you only have to remind them or demonstrate the most important stuff...

    For example, when we hosted the Dutch Open we had teams of 3 marshals around the track every 50m or so. In case of some emergency one of them would tend to flagging and directing the other cars away from the accident scene and keep communication with the race-leader. The second one would handle the fire extinguisher and the third one would tend to the driver.

    In my opinion the profit/cost ratio is good on this one...

    Just my 2 cents.
    Miki Hegedus
    Delft University of Technology

  9. #19
    Dear all,

    Like most of you know, I was helping the Italian event during the Static and Dynamic Days. Didn't had any briefing because they were in Italian or not given.

    During the endurance I was keeping an eye for the Safety on the back of the track. Just let you know that the organisation didn't told me what the safety regulations are during the endurance and I also didn't had a portable radio.

    The Marshall's in my neighbourhood were very slow with flags and didn't understand English. Very difficult to explain them what to do. During the Darmstadt car I saw some smoke and small fire. I spoke directly with the Marshall with the portable radio to "stop" the Darmstadt car. But he didn't understand me. Using a little bit of French he understood me and could give the Marshall on the Start/Finnish the flag signal. So it took like 20seconds to explain the Marshall's what happened.

    The next problem was that most of the flags from the Marshall's were way to far from the position. I only saw a red/black flag at Start/Finish

    So I'm writing now a huge Feedback report about the Italian event. A lot of teams already send me their Feedback. Thanks for that. If there are some more teams who like to give their feedback they can send it to me before Friday, September 25.
    Kevin Thomassen
    *Chassis '05, '06 DUT Racing Team Delft
    *Formula Student UK Design Judge '07 - '09
    *Formula SAE - VIR Design Judge '09
    *Formula SAE Italy overall Judge '09
    *Organiser DUTch Open 2008

  10. #20
    Very glad to see everyone made it out ok!

    I think the largest issue with this Italian even is the organization. Judging from Dart's origional post it seems the volunteers for the event are just random volunteerS. For the American SAE competitions all volunteers are SCCA trained corner workers. I've seen them pull drivers out from overturned vehicles, not is SAE competition but at full scale racing events. I don't know to what extent the European events are sanctioned by SAE but what happened in Italy would never have happened in the American competitions. Be it either checking all drivers are wearing thier nomex head socks required since this past year and other equipment or that the corner workers are properly trained. The speedways we compete at would never let SAE hold an event if they didn't come with proper safety workers, volunteers or not.

    This is surprising becuase from what I hear the Formula Student events in Germany and England are excellent. I don't know if this is SAE or a Formula Student event. The worst aspect of this happening is that if enough people get worried about this we might see some over the top new safety rules when a little bit of common sense and training could have gone a long way.

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