Forest Service reminds riders of off-road vehicle fire safety

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 6:10 PM EDT

As more than 100 fires burn in the state of Florida, the Florida Forest Service is reminding us of good fire prevention techniques. Officials say dirt bike and ATV riders, in particular, need to be on alert.

  • Riders should have spark arrestors installed in mufflers
  • Heat from undersides of dirt bikes can be a danger if riders fall down in dry leaves
  • Drivers also advised not to park cars on very dry grass

The Forest Service encourages riders to have a spark arrestor to minimize the risk of sparks flying from the muffler. Kenny Joel with Croom ATV Rental said the arrestors come standard on his vehicles.

"It goes inside the muffler and it has chambers -- if a spark was to come through the motor and through the pipe, it wouldn't make it out the pipe," Joel said.

"Unless someone wants to take it out for purely noise -- they think that it will make their ATV or Dirt Bike faster, but it really doesn't, then they would take it out,” he added.

A spark arrestor on a muffler. (Kim Leoffler, staff)

Any off-roading vehicle that enters an area run by the Florida Forest Service is required to have spark arrestors installed. But some bike riders say it's the metal section underneath the bike that's more important to look out for.

"The four-stroke headers get really hot if you fall down in some dry leaves, those things can start smoldering some of the leaves and now you've got yourself a problem," Greg Melka said.

Melka rides in the Croom Motorcycle Area several times a week, and said he did come across a small fire there around this time last year.

"I was able to stomp it out. If it would have been a big fire, it would have been a problem," he explained.

Photo: Kim Leoffler, staff

He said that fire could have been caused by the header on the bike. However, he said the most common way fires start in that area is from people throwing cigarettes on the ground.

The Forest Service also encourages people to not park their cars on dry grass, because a car's catalytic converter can get extremely hot and spark a fire.