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Improving Survivability in Motor Vehicle Fires



Ken H. Digges, Richard Gann, Steve J. Grayson, Marcelo M. Hirschler, Richard E. Lyon, David A. Purser, Jim G. Quintiere, Rody R. Stephenson, Archie Tewarson


Automobile fires are consistently among the largest causes of fire deaths in the United States and the U.S. motor vehicle industry has spent $14 million over the last ten years studying this problem. The authors of this review have analyzed the auto industry reports, the scientific literature, and statistical data, and conclude that the flammability of automotive materials must be reduced to improve survivability in automobile fires. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 302 was introduced almost 40 years ago to measure the flammability of interior materials, but improvements in the crashworthiness of automobiles and their fuel tanks and the increased use of combustible materials has changed the motor vehicle fire scenario significantly. In particular, the primary threat has changed from ignition of a small quantity of combustible interior materials by a lit cigarette in 1960 to ignition of a large quantity of combustible interior and exterior materials by an impact-induced fire at present. The authors therefore suggest that FMVSS 302 is no longer relevant to automobile fire safety and recommend that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration develop improved standards for the flammability of automotive materials. Moreover, we recommend that NHTSA upgrade material flammability requirements based on objective criteria for fire safety performance (fireworthiness) of materials validated at the system/vehicle level as is routinely done for crashworthiness.
International Journal of Web Services Research


Digges, K. , Gann, R. , Grayson, S. , Hirschler, M. , Lyon, R. , Purser, D. , Quintiere, J. , Stephenson, R. and Tewarson, A. (2007), Improving Survivability in Motor Vehicle Fires, International Journal of Web Services Research, [online], (Accessed May 29, 2024)


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Created September 4, 2007, Updated October 12, 2021