Service Truck Box Fire

Truck Box Illustration


On a summer late afternoon in the Appalachians, a logging company owner was driving home from work in his company crew/equipment truck.

Personnel Characteristics

The 55-year-old driver was the owner of a mechanized logging operation. He had been in business for approximately 25 years.

Unsafe Acts and Conditions

The enclosed-box back end of the truck contained OSHA-approved gas cans, batteries, filters, hydraulic hoses, tools, and other items typically needed on a mechanized logging job. There were unsecured parts and tools in the box. A significant item in the box was a battery that the crew had replaced that morning. This space was poorly ventilated, so gas fumes could not escape easily.


While driving home, the owner noticed smoke coming out of the back box on his truck. When he pulled off the road to investigate, he found that there was a fire inside the box. He grabbed things that were on fire and threw them out. He was able to put the fire out. A wrench had fallen off a shelf and landed on the battery, causing an arc that started the fire.


The owner received minor burns to his right hand that did not require medical attention. He was extremely fortunate.

Recommendations for Corrections

  1. Mount fire extinguishers at the doorway or outside of the truck box.
  2. Secure all tools and all other items, so they will not shift while the truck is moving.
  3. Place caps over both the positive and negative posts of all stored batteries.
  4. Make sure that the inside of the box is well ventilated. (Ideally, flammables and other hazardous substances would be secured in an open cargo area.)
  5. Take precautions before opening the door of a burning area. It can cause the fire to flash, and serious injuries can occur.