Review: The Best Value Fire System For Road Racing

By Winding Road Staff

October 17, 2018

Fire suppression is somewhat like life insurance: a topic that isn't all that much fun to talk about, but a necessary one, nonetheless. We have found a fire suppression system for race cars that we think checks just about all the boxes, and so could be said to be the best value on the market. That system is the Lifeline Zero 360 FIA 2.25 kg Novec 1230 Fire Marshal System. What Lifeline lacks in snappy naming it more than makes up for with technology, as we discuss in this review.

Let's assume you've already figured out that you want a fire suppression system for your race car, not a fire bottle. That's because pulling a lever in a fire is a lot faster and easier to remember than finding your fire bottle, unhooking it from its mount and aiming it in various places. Fire suppression systems also have nozzles in the engine bay, where most fires start, and the interior, where the driver is, and work on fires in both areas at the same time. This can save money and reduce injury.

The element that makes the Lifeline Zero 360 stand out at its reasonable price ($700) is the use of Novec 1230 gas as the fire suppression chemical. Novec works differently than foam, and that difference is quite valuable. When Novec liquid is sprayed through the six nozzles (4 engine, 2 interior) of the system, the Novec is atomized and turns into a gas. The fire suppression happens because the Novec gas absorbs the heat of the incipient fire and the gas similarly prevents re-ignition. The Novec gas also expands to fill the volume in which it is sprayed, making Novec's coverage far greater than with foam which is physically dispersed only where it is aimed.

In the interior of the car, Novec's heat suppression means that the driver can breathe without the risk of fire damage to his/her lungs (watch the film Rush, which is about the Niki Lauda-James Hunt F1 battle, for a sense of how important this is). Novec is also non-toxic and approved by the EPA for use in occupied spaces. 

To this effective fire suppression, Novec adds another advantage. Because Novec operates as a gas, there is no foam messing up the car and potentially damaging electronics. Eventually, the Novec simply evaporates. Of course, the initial fire may cause damage, but if the fire is small, or can be contained, you don't want the added headache of a big cleanup.

Novec is also alcohol-resistant, so it works for alcohol and E85, and the Lifeline 360 twin bottle systems work for methanol applications. This is different from AFFF, which dissolves in alcohol unless you are using AR-AFFF (alcohol resistant). 

The Lifeline Zero 360 is designed for applications that would normally use a 4L AFFF foam system. It comes with six nozzles, two pull cables, tubing, heatproof braid, and mounting accessories.

Winding Road Racing is a Lifeline servicing dealer. For more information and to buy: Lifeline Zero 360 FIA 2.25kg Novec 1230 Fire Marshal System