Don't do this at home, please.
Heavy industry-wise, fire suppression systems are mostly used to help control damage and loss to equipment. Depending on the system type, common means of detection are through heat sensors, wiring, or even manual detection. In heavy equipment vehicles, fire suppression systems have become a vital safety feature most commonly used in the mining, forestry, landfill, and mass transit industries. But neither of these applications is as highly relevant to saving human lives as it is in motorsport.
In race cars, fire suppression systems are designed to save the driver and his co-pilot first, and then to take care of the car itself. In some cases, fire extinguishing systems simply provide more time for the occupants to escape a burning car before the situation gets more dangerous. Each system is designed according to the parameters of a certain series of cars taking into consideration the best nozzle placement, extinguishers formula, and mounting.
In the video at the top of this page, the folks over at Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds channel on YouTube demonstrate how the fire suppression system in a Dodge Viper race car works. More precisely, it is a 2008 Viper ACR chassis modified to “look and perform almost identically” to a 2010 Viper ACR-X. From factory, the latter comes equipped with safety systems such as an eight-point roll cage, removable steering wheel, racing seat, six-point racing harness, and fire suppression system.
Basically, the video simulates a situation where there’s a fire coming from the engine compartment. The system on this car has two sections – one for the engine bay itself and one for the cabin, and the test here checks both of them. Everything happens in just a few seconds and while there’s no actual fire to extinguish, we now have a pretty good idea of how these systems work.
Source: Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds on YouTube