Fire extinguishers are so commonplace that we tend to ignore them, like traffic lights. Unlike traffic lights, fire extinguishers require a little knowledge to select the right one and to use it appropriately. Luckily the folks at H3R know what they're doing and are here to help. Rather than going over the nitty-gritty of why H3R extinguishers are so great, just know that their products are everywhere in racing, offroad and aviation because they're designed right and they work when you need them to.
We were looking for an extinguisher that we could keep in our Jeep, both for automotive fires and for fires in the backcountry that were small enough to contain with a handheld extinguisher. Yes, we're talking about your out-of-control campfire. Knowing that, we selected the MaxOut 250R. It's medium sized, with 2.5 pounds of dry chemical agent, with a UL rating of 1A:10B:C.
Let's break that down, starting with the rating. UL is Underwriter's Laboratory, which has been testing and certifying products for safety since 1894. The extinguisher rating has three letters for the types of fires it is designed to put out: A for wood, paper and other combustibles, B for flammable liquids and gases like gasoline, and C for electrical fires. A and B get numbers too, which indicate the relative size of the fire the extinguisher can put out. For more details check out H3R's FAQ page, it's great.
The agent, the stuff inside the extinguisher that sprays on the fire, is important too. H3R makes B:C extinguishers specifically for cars and airplanes called HalGuard that use the agent Halotron, an effective, environmentally safe and more expensive agent. But it doesn't work well on type A fires, which we wanted the option for because of campfires, so we went with the MaxOut. Size was a consideration too. Our neighbor is a wildlands firefighter and says that 2.5 pounds is a good start, meaning you have to catch a fire early to put it out with a small to medium extinguisher. That should be OK for fires that start when you're present, but use good judgement for bigger fires you might stumble on; using 2.5lbs on a fully engulfed vehicle is like throwing bricks in the Grand Canyon.
Mounting was our final challenge. On a Jeep you can mount to the rollbar, seats or in the cargo area. We used H3R's seat mount, which took some finagling. There wasn't quite enough space on the side of the seat to mount there, so we put it in front with the mounting surface vertical. The picture above on the lower right is our install, the pic above it is the H3R recommendation. It took about an hour, starting with a loose assembly, lots of nudging of parts and gradually tightening everything up. Gently smacking the brackets that mount under the seat bolts with a five pound hand sledge helped create enough space to get sockets on everything. In the end the mount intrudes about 4-5 inches into the passenger footwell, not a huge deal.
One day Jeep will get smart and make the front of the seat mount more accessory-friendly, but for now this works. The extinguisher is in a space not normally used for storage, doesn't hugely detract from foot space, and is quickly accessible by both driver and passenger. Plus it's hard to miss every time you get in the vehicle, so like our trauma kit mounted to the ceiling you'll remember where it is when you need it. You just can't go wrong with H3R in your car.