As a driver, there's no greater fear that I have than trying to get out of the car while it's engulfed in flames. Every racer has seen those videos of drivers who panic while trying to get out of the car and then end up with second- or third-degree burns. I always find myself saying while watching those videos, Why aren't you pulling the fire extinguisher?

I would venture to say that most drivers don't give a second thought to how well their fire bottle is installed. Most people have the mindset that as long as it will pass through tech then it's fine with me. The problem with this type of thinking is when the worst happens and you go to rely on your fire extinguisher, it may or may not work. Take a few hours and make certain that your fire bottle is installed properly so you don't have to worry about whether or not it will extinguish a fire.

Choosing the right fire bottle is the first decision you have to make. To the naked eye, any fire bottle will do, but you need to choose the right one for your type of application. The system that is being installed in our Circle Track project car has a 5-pound bottle designed for two ports which we decided would be sufficient for our application. The two-port setup will allow us to have one port in the fuel cell area and one by the driver's seat.

If, however, we were running an 850hp, alcohol-burning, Outlaw-style Late Model, I'd feel more comfortable with three extinguisher ports. The third one would be placed in front of the firewall near the fuel pump to give maximum protection from the invisible fires associated with alcohol-based fuels.

If we had installed a three-port system, we would need a 10-pound bottle since the 5-pound one won't supply enough pressure to fire all three ports.

The placement of the fire bottle is crucial as well--I wanted to put it as low as we could and as far left as possible. Fire bottles can weigh up to 10 pounds and that's weight you can use to help with your setup.

The installation is key to making certain that the bottle will work properly when the firing mechanism is pulled. Each fire bottle is made up of the bottle itself, a gauge, and the firing mechanism. We've already talked about the bottle, so let's discuss the gauge. The gauge tells you whether or not your fire extinguisher is properly charged. If the gauge is reading in the red at all, you need to have the fire bottle recharged. Don't take any chances.

The firing mechanism is made up of two safety pins and the firing pin. When that pin is pulled or activated, it will shove a sharp piece of steel through a thin sheet of metal allowing the fire extinguisher to release its chemicals.

Most fire extinguishers work to smother the fire by removing the oxygen out of the immediate area. This is why you don't want to point the extinguisher port at the driver's upper body. You won't be able to breathe when it goes off.

To avoid this situation, we placed the port in the driver's compartment where it will shoot my lower torso. This will protect my upper torso as well, but it will do so while still allowing me to escape the vehicle. Now follow along as we inspect and install our fire bottle the proper way.