Dafo Vehicle offers vehicle fire protection solutions for high-risk industries. Dafo was founded in 1919 and has developed into a modern, high-tech company committed to offering the very best solutions to its customers. The company was one of the first companies in the world to develop integrated firefighting solutions for vehicles in 1976. With over 100 years of experience, Dafo Vehicle is at the forefront of heavy vehicle fire protection technology. 

Dafo Vehicle Fire Protection has three main business areas: Integration (Fire suppression systems integration into OEM production line, Retrofit (Fire suppression systems installed at final customer), and Service and maintenance.

Interview with Hannu Sartovuo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Dafo Vehicle.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Hannu Sartovuo: As a result of its drive for ongoing research and development, today, Dafo Vehicle has a complete range of automotive-grade fire protection technology solutions. Dafo Vehicle adapts its suppression solutions based on this technology to effectively meet specific customer needs, risks and applications.

Dafo Vehicle Fire Protection specialises in fire detection and suppression solutions for:

  • Public transport – With a specific focus on buses and coaches.
  • Heavy duty mobile equipment (HDME) – Including working machines and equipment in agriculture, construction, container handling, forestry, truck/haulage, materials handling, mining operations and waste handling.
  • Industrial applications – Heavy industry applications, such as lithium-ion battery manufacturing, warehouses and testing facilities, petrochemical industry and metal works.
  • Integrated detection and control – Automotive grade detection and control components integrated into various OEM products and solutions, such as electric, gas and hydrogen vehicles and transport.

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

H.S: Automation and alternative fuels in the automotive and construction industries place enormous new challenges that require more advanced fire protection and suppression technology.

In the push for sustainability, many high-risk industries are shifting from traditional combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs).

Although EVs are less vulnerable to overheating, the lithium-ion batteries that power them do introduce new fire risks. Four main factors can influence battery fires:

  • Over/undercharging
  • Heat exposure
  • Mechanical influences – for example, crashes or mechanical failures
  • Protection fault – where particles can enter battery cells.

Each one of these factors can cause an internal short-circuit, putting the battery at high risk of thermal runaway – where the temperature rapidly increases, raising the risk of fire, toxic gas emissions and potential explosions.

This risk requires a unique protection solution that can detect toxic gases before the temperature increases. Traditional detection solutions usually are unable to pick up on thermal runaway until temperatures begin to rise – by which time it’s often too late. In response to the pressing needs, Dafo has developed an early warning detection fire protection solution, which specifically addresses the risks associated with Li-ion batteries.

Since the COVID pandemic, automation has grown rapidly, as driverless vehicles support remote operations – increasing uptime and reducing health risks for personnel working in the mine.

However, detecting a potential fire can be more complex with fewer workers on site or operating at a greater distance from the vehicles. This makes an automated detection and suppression system vital to increase the response time and minimise downtime and risk of damage.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

H.S: Dafo Vehicle is a total risk management service provider for mobile equipment. We offer 360 solutions encompassing everything from fire risk assessment to training and hardware. 

The hardware consists of a complete range of Fire Suppression Systems for vehicles. We provide everything from simple solutions to tailor-made systems for all types of mobile equipment. We can meet today’s high demands on delivering precision and quality and are well experienced at delivering directly to the production line. This experience and flexible production in our state-of-the-art premises mean we can offer a high degree of customer adaptation at a favourable cost and a reasonable delivery time.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

H.S: As we work with customers worldwide, the markets are quite different. In industrialized countries, the transition towards alternative fuels has come a lot further than in the developing countries. There are also variances concerning legislation, regulations and standards controlling the use of fire protection equipment for vehicles. In some countries, insurance companies demand that each heavy-duty vehicle operating in a high-risk industry should be equipped with a fire protection system. In Europe, legislation requires all buses and coaches to be equipped with a fire protection system. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

H.S: According to the latest market research report, the fire protection systems market is expected to grow by around 30% from 2022 to 2027. One of the fastest-growing countries in the industry is China, which is also the largest economy in the Asia Pacific region. China’s government is anticipated to establish strict laws and regulations in terms of fire protection. We believe that several countries will be following their example. 

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

H.S: Total protection for EV solutions is where we have been at the forefront of technology in our industry.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023? Where is the industry heading to?

H.S: The rapid development of hybrid and electrification on mobile equipment has been causing new challenges in fire protection and detection solutions. The industry is currently measuring and developing possibilities to use other power sources such as fuel cells and hydrogen. Which, on their behalf, raises new challenges in terms of fire protection and detection. We believe this is what we will need to focus on in the future.