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National Fire Prevention Week is coming, and it is a good time to review with your drivers how to prevent fires and how to react to a fire that occurs in their commercial motor vehicle. This week a video of an accident on I95 in Connecticut went viral as a burning tractor trailer engulfed in fire closed all lanes of I95.


Fire extinguisher inspections are a vital part of a driver’s daily vehicle inspection process.  It amazes me how many times I look at a truck and find the fire extinguisher has lost its pressure due to a leak or was used and returned to the truck without being recharged.  The actions of a driver at the time of a fire are crucial in saving lives and controlling the amount of loss.

When a fire occurs in a commercial motor vehicle the driver must know two things

1. Knowledge about fires.

2. How to operate a fire extinguisher.


Fire safety and fire extinguisher operation should be part of every new driver’s orientation program.

Fire Extinguisher

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations require that all commercial motor vehicles have a fire extinguisher on board that is of the correct size, type and properly secured and labeled.  Did you know that a CMV with hazardous materials is required to have a different size extinguisher than those not carrying hazardous material?

What are the emergency equipment requirements on all power units?

Code of Federal Regulations -

Each truck, truck tractor, and bus (except those towed in driveaway-towaway operations) must be equipped as follows:

Fire Ext

(a) Fire Extinguishers. 

(a)(1) Minimum ratings:

      ●A power unit that is used to transport hazardous materials in a quantity that requires placarding must be equipped with a fire extinguisher having an                        Underwriters’ Laboratories rating of 10 B:C or more. 

      ● A power unit that is not used to transport hazardous materials must be equipped with either:

      ● A fire extinguisher having an Underwriters’ Laboratories rating of 5 B:C or more.

Labeling and marking. Each fire extinguisher required by this section must be labeled or marked by the manufacturer with its Underwriters’ Laboratories rating.

Visual Indicators. The fire extinguisher must be designed, constructed, and maintained to permit visual determination of whether it is fully charged.

Condition, location, and mounting. The fire extinguisher(s) must be filled and located so that it is readily accessible for use. The extinguisher(s) must be securely mounted to prevent sliding, rolling, or vertical movement relative to the motor vehicle.

FMCSA survey reveals increase in failed random tests

An annual survey that captures the percentage of failed Part 382 tests showed an uptick in both positive drug and alcohol tests.

The “2019 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey” used data solicited from over 9,000 randomly selected motor carriers. Approximately 4,000 were responded, resulting in usable data from over 3,000 participants. 

Drug usage rate

The positivity rate for drugs reflects the presence of the drugs identified in 40.85 within the cutoff levels prescribed in 40.87. Positive random drug tests in 2019 were up 60 percent from 2018. The post-accident positive rate increased by 314 percent.

The following are drug usage rates based on test type:


2017 usage rate

2018 usage rate

2019 usage rate













Alcohol usage rate
A positive alcohol test is one based on a 0.04 cutoff level. The positive random alcohol testing rate jumped 400 percent from 2018 to 2019, while failed post-accident tests decreased by 75 percent.

The following are usage rates based on alcohol test type:


2017 usage rate

2018 usage rate

2019 usage rate









How is the data used?

The random drug and alcohol testing rates are increased or decreased, respectively, based on the percentage of failed FMCSA random tests reported during the survey.

The current random drug testing rate is 50 percent. To be lowered to 25 percent, the random drug usage rate must be less than 1.0 percent for two consecutive years. The previous two years are 1.0 percent (2018) and 1.6 percent (2019).

The current random alcohol testing rate is 10 percent. The rate is increased to 25 percent if the random alcohol usage rate is equal to or greater than 0.5 percent, but less than 1.0 percent.
If the alcohol testing rate is 25 percent or less, it is increased to 50 percent if the usage rate is equal to or greater than 1.0 percent. The random alcohol usage rate for 2019 is 0.3 percent.