DRIVERS & CREWS:
Safety is your first and foremost preparation to go racing. During this racing season, make it a priority to check all of your personal safety equipment & accessories.
Following are some things to look for:
HELMETS: Any deformity in the shell that might indicate if it has been dropped or hit. Inside look at the liner and chin strap. If there are any loose fibers, fraying or coming apart, it may be time to replace. Also if you have a face shield, can you see adequately through it? If not, replace it.
FIRESUITS: Look for signs of wear & tear in the actions spots such as the seat, arm & elbow areas, and any leg areas that rub against the interior of your ride. If it is a single layer firesuit, it should be rated at a minimum of SFI3-2A/1. We will get into this rating system in a future article. Also look at the material, whether it is Nomex® or Proban® (fire retardant materials) or another material, make sure that you are following the manufacturers recommended cleaning procedures. As a general rule of thumb, suits that are consistantly washed week after week, will start to deteriorate between 1-2 years with normal use. It is a good idea that if the suit is questionable, REPLACE IT!!
GLOVES: A very important protective item. Signs to look for include wear on the finger sections as well as the area in between the fingers. Loose threads or holes should tell you that it is time to replace. A good pair of gloves include any that have at least a double layer on the backs of the hand, and at least a
single layer of leather and/or fire retardant material on the palms.
HEAD SOCK or HOOD: Normally these are made out of Nomex®, and are single or double-layer. If there are any wear spots or holes, replace it. If you currently are not using one of these, do yourself a favor and buy one. They are only about $30.00 and could save you from getting badly burned.
UNDERWEAR: A lot of drivers do not use flame retardant underwear because they feel that they do not need it because of their highly rated firesuit. Make yourself a X-mas present and get a set. It will significantly increase the TPP rating which is the time to a burn. A good set runs around $100.00.
SOCKS/SHOES: Fire retardant socks are a must!
They are in inexpensive alternative to pain and suffering from flas burns that you could sustain in the car. Drivers shoes are nice, but if you can't afford them. make sure your shoes or boots are at least leather. Stay away from nylon, rayon etc. (Tennis Shoes.) These light up very fast.
INTERIOR OF THE CAR: Make sure that the restraining belts and window net does not have any frayed edges or severe sun-fade appearance. This indicates that the belts could be detioriated and after time could cause them not to hold you when you need it the most. Also look for any areas that should be padded in case of impact (i.e. roll cage, door bars, steering pad, seat.) Take a look at your on-board fire extinguisher, (probably a 2.5 lb.BC) and check that it is secure but easily accesible should the driver need to get to it. If you have a commercially available on-board fire system, inspect the nozzles that they are free from obstructions and that the system has adequate pressure to discharge if needed. Also, the release handle should be easy for the driver to reach sitting up and if the car is upside down.
THE ABOVE REPRESENT SOME GENERAL INSPECTION PROCEDURES FOR DRIVERS AND CREWS. These should be done on a routine basis at least every time that you race. A little time spent ahead of time, will save you a lot of grief later.
Hopefully this has answered some frequent asked questions, but if you have more, please reply or you can send me an e-mail.
Chief Craig C. Clarke
TRACK RESCUE FIRE DEPARTMENT
(EDITORS NOTE: Chief Craig C. Clarke owns and operates TRACK RESCUE FIRE DEPT. A veteran Firefighter/EMT & Fire Chief, with over 20 years experience, He is a national advocate to improve motorsports, has served as an expert witness, and has written various articles on motorsports safety.)
©KARNAC.com & Craig C. Clarke, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Have an opinion on this story? Post a message on our Message Board!
or send a letter to the editor!