Tires contain certain compounds like benzene, oil and carbon that are highly flammable. Because of these compounds, tires often burn when they are piled in large quantities under hot conditions.
Does this situation make tires a fire hazard?
Read on, and you’ll find out.
Are tires a fire hazard?
Tires are flammable but do not readily catch fire. However, when you store plenty of tires in the same place and conditions for combustion are present, they can become a hazard. When tires catch fire, they burn with intense heat and produce noxious smoke that can cause serious health problems when inhaled in high concentrations.
Can You Safely Store Tires Indoor in the Winter?
Yes, you can. It is more advisable to store your tires indoors than outdoors in the winter. Especially when the tires in question are summer or all-season tires, they will freeze and crack in harsh winter conditions.
That said, there are certain guidelines you can follow to store your tires safely indoors in the winter:
- Stand your tires in an upright position, with each one leaning on the other. If you must stack them, put each of them in airtight bags before you do so.
- Place a piece of wood on the floor before piling your tires.
- Keep your tire pile below 50 feet in length.
- If you pile your tires next to each other, ensure they do not go beyond 25 feet.
- Keep the room where you store your tires is well ventilated.
If your tire piles surpass the specified measurements above, they can become a hazard if there is a fire outbreak.
Since the chemicals in these tires are already flammable, concentration of these substances can lead to explosion.
What’s the Most Secure Way to Store Tires?
There is no particularly wrong way to store tires. However, some methods are more preferable to others.
This section compares the different methods of storing tires against each other:
Outdoor vs. Indoors
It is more secure to store your tires indoors than outdoors. When placed in sunlight, heat from the sun will distort the rubber in the tires.
Likewise, tires made with natural rubber will freeze in chilly weather. However, when you place your tires indoors, it must be in a cool room.
Stacked vs. Upright
You are better off storing your tires in an upright position than in a stack. Stacking your tires will put a lot of stress on them. You don’t want that, because stressing your tires will ruin their shape and reduce the fuel economy of your car.
Moreover, stacking your tires requires that you place them in individual airtight bags.
If you bypass this precaution, your tires might be susceptible to burning.
On the other hand, you’ll save your tires a lot of stress when you place them in an upright position.
Once you create a barrier between your tires and the ground and stick to the maximum number of per pile, they’ll likely be safe.
What Can Cause Tires to Catch Fire?
Tires can catch fire if you expose them to severe heat or harsh sunlight. Also, piling your tires in large numbers can increase the risk of a fire. The chemical compounds in tires are combustible and assembling high numbers of tires in one place will concentrate these compounds. In such cases, a fire explosion may be inevitable.
How to Ensure Tires Don’t Catch Fire
Whether you store your tires indoors or outdoors, you can avoid tire fires with these tips:
- Store your tires in a well-ventilated room. This will lower the heat and prevent fire incidents.
- Your tires are less likely to catch fire if you stand them upright.
- If you choose to place your tires in an upright position, limit the pile length to 50 feet.
- Keep your tire piles far away from houses, preferably 50 feet or farther. In case the tires explode because of exposure to sunlight, they’ll be too far away to cause significant damage to other objects or the building.
- If you must store your tires outdoors, stack them up. After all, the goal is always to protect your tires from sunlight or, in the case of winter, snow.
- Avoid placing your tires near inflammable surfaces like grass.
- Keep your tire stacks lower than 10 feet in height.
At What Temperature Do Tires Catch Fire?
Tires are at risk of catching fire once they’ve reached a temperature of 750˚F-1000˚F (400˚C-540˚C). It takes a lot of things to go wrong simultaneously to get this type of high temperatures. But when tires are stacked high in a poorly ventilated space, a small spark can create scorching conditions hot enough to cause an inferno.
While they are very difficult to ignite, tires will burn with extreme heat and intense smoke which is difficult to control.
If you must store tires in bulk, make sure to take every precaution to prevent them from becoming a fire hazard.
Do Tires Mounted on a Car Catch Fire?
Yes, they can. However, such fires are usually caused by heat generated from the tires themselves, as opposed to heat from sunlight. These fires occur due to the sparks the car wheels produce when they are drawn constantly over a pavement.
The sparks heat up and deflate the tires, thus provoking an explosion.
The average temperature that causes a mounted tire fire is 750˚ Fahrenheit.
Another theory is that tire fires occur when heat from a brake is transmitted to an already flat tire.
You can prevent these fires by inspecting your tire pressure and checking for flat tires. In some cases, tire fires are caused by arsons.
You should take the steps below to put out a mounted tire fire:
- Tire fires are often difficult to control. So, each driver may need a minimum of two fire extinguishers to put out a tire fire.
- Detach tires as soon as the fire is off. Sometimes, a fire explosion may recur within one hour of the first. Removing the tires will forestall a repeat occurrence.
- In case you exhaust your fire extinguisher before you completely douse the fire, drag the car along the road until you can get a spare extinguisher. As an alternative, you may use water or sand. Also, douse unburned tires with water and sand to prevent them from igniting.