LPG Converted Vehicles are at least as Safe as any Other

We converted this 2.9 litre Jaguar for the owner in July of 2003.

In mid November 2004, whilst driving, a fault developed in the car. The owner smelled smoke and a fire began. He stopped the car and got out, then stood well clear and called the Fire Services. By the time they arrived the fire was well advanced.

Although the underbonnet area was gutted by the fire, LPG system components and their safety devices resisted the flames and prevented any gas escape. The LPG supply pipes where also intact. The gas supply from the tank had been automatically shut down as soon as the engine stopped. The Firefighters arrived and put the blaze out quickly, preventing the passenger compartment and boot area from being burned.

The LPG vaporiser unit and cut off solenoid are ringed in red, blackened but still completely intact. One reason for survival of the vaporiser is that it has engine coolant flowing through it for heating in normal operation. This also works in reverse, cooling the vaporiser if it is being heated from outside.

The Fire Service report on the blaze ruled out the conversion as a cause of fire, and went on to say that the included safety devices prevented it from accelerating the progress of the fire by shutting off the gas supply. Later, the cause of the fire was traced, a siezed and stalled heater blower had become extremely hot and then burst into flames.

Pausing for a while to reflect on what actually causes most car fires, a few checks will reveal that most car fires begin under the bonnet (in the case of front engined cars) and often have an electrical cause. Also take note that an LPG tank is most often placed at the rear of the car. These facts turn claims of increased risk of fire right round to the opposite view, as it is clear that far from causing a fire, an LPG system will most likely have to withstand fire caused by the car. It is also important to consider that having the LPG tank placed at the rear of the car gives the greatest amount of time for its occupants (and any people nearby) to get well away from the immediate area. Even if the fire does reach the rear of the car, the LPG tank has excellent safety devices fitted to it in the form of a hefty safety valve and venting hoses or ducts. If this valve is triggered, venting of released gas will be in only one direction, not the 'splatter' of an exploding (thin metal or plastic) petrol tank.

Much has been made of increased fire risk for LPG vehicles in the past, both in the Newspapers and on TV. Sensational (rigged) demonstrations of LPG tanks exploding and claims that owners "could be driving a bomb" have been made. A couple of years ago Birmingham Trading Standards and Central TV did much harm to the Midlands LPG industry on the strength of such claims.

It is clear that the safety of this particular car and its driver were not compromised in any way by the LPG conversion. In addition to that, when the car itself caught fire (putting the LPG system at risk) the LPG system actively protected itself AND prevented the fire from being made worse by releasing any of its fuel. Note that the safety devices we included in that car's LPG system worked, we include them on every conversion and they are included by all UK conversion companies working to the standards of the BSI (British Standards Institute) and LPGA (Liquid Petroleum Gas Association).

In the light of the above, I feel that the motion I have put forward ('LPG Converted Vehicles are at least as Safe as any Other') is proven by this account of events, and that the claims of the Media in general ( with Birmingham Trading Standards and Central TV in particular) are invalid.

An interesting footnote to this article is that the owner of this car works for another Town Council Trading Standards Dept. He has written to me personally, reporting the fire, sending me these pictures and thanking Go LPG! for converting his car in a safe manner.

I thank him for taking the trouble and giving me this opportunity to redress the balance.

Steven P. Sparrow BSc (Hons)


30th January 2005

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