Vehicle fires: Close to BND120K in losses in first five months

Azlan Othman

Losses amounting to BND119,750 have been recorded in 41 calls related to vehicle fires from January to May, with an average of two incidents occurring in a week, said the Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) yesterday.

Head of Vehicle, Engineering and Technical at the Fire and Rescue Department Superintendent Pengiran Haji Asmali bin Pengiran Haji Ahmad said, “The main causes of vehicle fires are electrical and mechanical faults, human error and negligence, impact from an accident leading to leakage or a spark in the engine component, and the flames from open burning or bush fire which can spread and destroy the car.”

Regarding electrical faults in the car, Pengiran Haji Asmali said, “These are due to damage of the electrical system components inside the engine, to the wiring system, to the Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) system and to the fuse box inside the engine. Mechanical faults include damage to mechanical components, a fuel hose leak or passage to vehicle components and loose connection.

“Examples of human error and negligence include lack of knowledge when choosing car spare parts, leaving the car engine running and bush fire spreading to the car park area. The incidences of car fire have shown an increasing trend and should be taken seriously.”

Motorists are encouraged to keep a one kilogramme dry powder fire extinguisher at hand and to avoid from having any modifications made to the original car design.

Vehicle owners are also advised not to make modifications to electronic wiring systems without following the original specification and engine capability.

In addition, all electrical wiring, engine and fire system source examinations as well as vehicle mechanical equipment must be handled by authorised mechanics to detect any faults or leakage in the car.

The joint press conference underway. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

Caution must be exercised when buying car spare parts to ensure that they are safe, appropriate for use. When refuelling at a petrol filling station, motorists must switch off the car engine and avoid smoking and using mobile phones.

Director at the Land Transport Department (JPD) Haji Rozaly bin Haji Saidon said, “The mechanical, electrical and motor systems inside the vehicle are exposed to fire if not maintained properly, or modified with the wrong specifications and procedures. Faults in the mechanical and electrical systems, leakage in oil and flammable liquid, and an overheated engine can also cause car fires.

“Among the common causes of car fires are short-circuited and overloaded electrical systems due to excessive modifications made in the wiring.”

“Car fires are also caused by faulty or worn-out systems, especially in old vehicles.”

JPD urged workshop owners to provide proper maintenance and to prioritise safety by ensuring that their mechanics are certified and efficient, while adhering to proper standards and procedures in emphasising public safety by providing high quality and proper maintenance, instead of using low-quality spare parts that are unsuited to the car model.

JPD and other enforcement agencies such as the FRD and the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) will conduct inspections of workshop premises to ensure compliance with the stipulated regulations, and will take stern action against any individual or workshop found in violation of the law.

Acting Director of the Traffic Control and Investigation Department at the RBPF Senior Superintendent Pengiran Haji Abdul Salam bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Ghani said, “Besides adhering to road laws and regulations, and being cautious and considerate when behind the wheel, every motorist is also advised to stay constantly alert and ensure that their vehicle is in good condition.

“Engine faults or fires can cause motorists to experience a non-functional braking system and an abrupt stall while driving, leading to an accident.

“Potential car buyers are also advised to check the car’s history, as the car may have undergone damage and therefore not road-worthy. One should not be easily be misled by the car exterior when buying it.”

He added, “Car fires can also be caused by flammable materials like powerbanks, magnifying glasses, ignited items, oil and flammable liquid.”

Complaints on illegal modifications made to a vehicle or wiring system, can be forwarded through Darussalam hotline at 123, WhatsApp at 8333123 or visit www.123.gov.bn and include photos of the illegally modified vehicle.