The SUV-Hating Tire Firefighters group is deflating tires in protest

  • An environmental group called Tire Extinguishers has tips on how to deflate — not cut — SUV tires in crowded city areas as a way to persuade people not to drive the behemoths there.
  • After launching in the UK earlier this year, the group has reported its first forays into the US, with SUVs in New York, Chicago and the Bay Area all targeted.
  • Decentralized tire thugs (who claim to have no leader) say that large vehicles used by disabled people or groups should not be targeted, but that electric vehicles and hybrids are valid targets.

    Protests against SUVs are nothing new and have been around almost since large vehicles – too large, for some – became increasingly popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. Those of us who were there they remember the Hummer greeting, for example. Calls for a ban on SUVs have surfaced time and again over the years. In 2019, anti-SUV activists protested at the Frankfurt Motor Show, calling out the “SUV-ization” of the industry. These protesters were happy to make their claims in public, where they were sure they would not only be noticed, but caught.

    Now, a new wave of attacks on SUVs is happening out of sight. Or, at least, that’s the idea. As first reported by The Drive, a decentralized group called Tire Extinguishers (spelling hints at the group’s UK origins) is promoting the idea of ​​deflating the tires of as many SUVs as possible to make it “impossible to own a big polluting 4×4″. in the urban areas of the world”. By deflating enough tires on these “massive, unnecessary vehicles,” the group hopes to cause enough “inconvenience and expense to their owners” that people will simply stop driving large vehicles in crowded areas.

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    The group said in March that supporters had punctured the tires of around 100 SUVs in cities across England and this was just the beginning. The group now offers flyers in 10 languages ​​and, earlier this month, celebrated its first US drive, claiming that dozens of SUVs in “several major cities, including New York, Chicago and the Bay Area” had been targeted.

    From the Tire Extinguishers leaflet.

    Tire extinguishers

    The group’s rationale and policy are very clear. Large vehicles like SUVs are “a disaster for our health, our public safety and our climate,” the group says on its website. “Bigger and bigger cars are dominating our towns and cities, and all the less privileged can flaunt their wealth. Because governments and politicians have failed to protect us from this danger, we must yourself.”

    Before we go any further, let’s point out that letting air out of a stranger’s tires should be at least a misdemeanor, right? In 2006, a member of the Houston Police Department wrote in Houston Chronicle that anyone who deflates another person’s tire “will be breaking the law whether you damaged the tire or not. Simply deflating would be breaking the law for the inconvenience it caused the owner. You will also be liable for any amount the person paid for towing or tire service.” State laws against “tampering with a vehicle” are likely to be enforceable, but of course, first the person would have to be caught in the act of deflating the tires.

    The Tire Extinguishers website gives specific instructions on how to deflate an SUV tire in less than 10 seconds without causing any permanent damage, and makes it clear that the mission here isn’t just to make someone late for work. The group recommends targeting SUVs in upscale or middle-class areas and then leaving a leaflet on the windshield explaining why their SUV now has a flat tire.

    Tire extinguishers also state their limits, saying cars clearly used by disabled people, commercial vehicles, minibuses and “normal sized cars” should be left alone. The group doesn’t even care about a vehicle’s powertrain, declaring that hybrids and electric cars are fair game. “We can’t electrify our way out of the climate crisis – there aren’t enough rare earth metals to replace everyone’s car, and extracting those metals causes suffering,” they write.

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