Author Topic: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!  (Read 14869 times)

Offline 78brave1

  • 12 year member
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Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« on: January 22, 2009, 11:30 PM »
The following fire safety article was written by:
Mark Polk, founder of RV Education 101
http://rveducation101.com/
 
RV fire safety is something most RVers don't think about or discuss very often, but's a topic that deserves serious attention. Do you know that there are about 20,000 reported RV fires each year? Do you know what to do in the event of a fire in or around your RV? If you said no, don't feel bad; a lot of other people don't know either.

A large percentage of RV fires are transmission-related on motorhomes. Leaking automatic transmission fluid can ignite and quickly spread if it contacts any portion of the exhaust system. Before traveling in your RV or tow vehicle inspect the underside for any signs of fluid leaking. Have any potential leaks checked and repaired immediately.

More than one-quarter of RV fires are caused by shorts in the 12-volt electrical system.

Not only do you need a fire extinguisher, but you need to inspect it before each trip to make sure it's charged. Look to see if the arrow is pointing in the green area in the sight gauge. If it reads empty or needs charging replace it or have it recharged immediately. If it's a dry powder type fire extinguisher, the arrow pointing in the green doesn't always guarantee that it will work.

Every month you should turn dry powder extinguishers upside down, tap on the bottom of the extinguisher and shake it so the powder that settled on the bottom is released.

There are four different types, or classes of fire extinguishers, A, B, C, and D, and each type is for a specific type of fire.

Class A extinguishers are used for fires caused by ordinary combustibles like paper and wood.

Class B extinguishers are used for fires caused by flammable liquids like grease, gasoline and oil.

Class C extinguishers are used for fires caused by electrical equipment.

Class D extinguishers are used for fires on flammable metals and often they are specific for the type of metal it is.

Some fire extinguishers have multi class ratings like, AB, BC or ABC which means one fire extinguisher can be used to put out different types of fires. The National Fire Protection Agency rules that RVs must have a "BC" rated fire extinguisher near the exit. "BC" rated fire extinguishers are used for flammable liquids and gasses like grease, gasoline and oil, and for electrical fires. Many RV fires that happen inside an RV are type A fires caused by common combustibles like paper, and they require a type A fire extinguisher to put them out. This is why, in my opinion, you should have more than one fire extinguisher for your RV.

It's a good idea to keep an ABC type fire extinguisher in an outside storage compartment where it is easily accessible. You should also keep an ABC type fire extinguisher inside the RV. If you tow a trailer keep an, ABC type fire extinguisher in the tow vehicle too.

Having these fire extinguishers available is a great idea but they are worthless if you and the other people traveling in the RV don't know what type of fire they're used for and how to properly operate them. Gather everybody who will be in the RV together, (not small children) and make sure they understand the different types of fire extinguishers you have and where they are located.

The old style labeling for fire extinguishers, to designate what type of fire they are used for was with the letter A, B, C or D. Newer labeling includes a picture designating the type of fire an extinguisher is used for.

If it's intended for multiple types of fires it will show the pictures for those types of fires and it will have a red diagonal line through the picture of what it cannot be used for.

Once everybody understands the different types of fire extinguishers the next step is to teach them how to properly use one. There are many different types and sizes but they essentially work the same. Teach everybody to remember the word PASS. This is an easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher, especially during an emergency.

PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.

Pull the pin located at the top of the fire extinguisher.

Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the handle, standing approximately eight feet away from the fire. Release the handle if you want it to stop.

Sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire until it is out. Observe the fire to make sure it does not re-ignite.

Last but certainly not least you need to have an emergency escape plan. The National Fire Protection agency requires that RVs have emergency escape windows. Make sure everybody knows where the escape window is located and how to use it. It's a good idea to practice using it so you are familiar with how to get out of the RV in case of an emergency. You should have an escape plan for the front of the RV and the rear of the RV.

Most important, do not risk your personal safety, or the safety of others, attempting to put a fire out. The first step is to get everybody out of the RV and away from the fire safely. Have somebody call 911 for help, and if you can't extinguish the fire within the first minute or so let the professionals put it out.

The original article, including supporting graphics, may be viewed at RV Education 101:  http://www.rvuniversity.com/staticpages/index.php/RV_Fire_Safety/print
 
This article has been approved for redistribution solely on this forum by: Mark Polk, founder of RV Education 101
http://rveducation101.com/

Offline captrowdy1

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Hello

    Awesome post speaking from a firefighters stand point! Just one other thing I'd like to add to keep you all safe from fire. Please don't ever go out for even one night in your RV without a working smoke detector. Smoke detectors save lives and don't forget to change the batteries often and before they die!
Rowdy

Offline ClydesdaleKevin

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  • Model: Imperial 35 Anniversary Edition
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  • Engine: 454
Here is a link with a lot more great information about fire extiguishers and fire fighting:

http://www.fire-extinguisher101.com/index.html

From being on a submarine for so many years, I can't emphasize enough the importance of having fire extinguishers in as many locations throughout your rig as possible.  We have one hanging right near the entrance door, one in the cabinet under the fridge at midships, and one in the rear bedroom right inside the closet door.

We use ABC dry chem extinguishers, even though I prefer CO2 extinguishers...they are rated BC, but used correctly are fine for A as well...All we used on submarines was CO2 and water...the CO2 is electrical friendly, kills a grease fire faster than anything, and leaves no residue at all afterward.

If I ever find some smaller CO2 extinguishers, I'll be replacing the dry chem style with them.  The biggest problem with the CO2 in an RV is the size of the extinguishers...I have yet to find ones that aren't full size like a scuba tank, and there is only so much room in an RV!

Smoke detectors are a must!  As well as CO detectors and LP detectors.  And yes, test them often and keep the batteries fresh!  If you smoke cigarettes like we do in your rig, the smoke and CO detectors are a pain in the butt...they go off from the ciggy smoke.  The way we get around this is to unplug the batteries during the day, and plug them back in at night...but don't forget to put the batteries back in before you go to sleep!  Patti and I are going to try to quit smoking altogether soon, so wish us luck!

Kev
Kev and Patti, the furry kids, our 98 Cherokee lifted beastie tow vehicle, and The Nautilus, our 1989 Holiday Rambler Imperial 35 Anniversary Edition.

Offline ibdilbert01

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A nice extinguisher to have on hand is an FE-36, its basically a replacement for Halon, but good for A, B and C fires.   Its not going to kill you if you breath it and it also does not leave a residue.  Also its good to use around electronics, as its nonconductive, noncorrosive and has no thermal shock like other compressed extinguishers. 

CO2 extinguishers are nice to have on hand as well, but keep in mind they are only rated for B and C type fires.
Constipated People Don't Give a crap!

Offline Arberg0

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hope this never happens to you this rv a barth was bought on ebay the buyer did not check it out before driving home in his new rv a few miles down the road this happened he was lucky he got out please please if you do buy anything check it out before driving off in it make sure this does not happen to you you may not be as lucky

arberg0 :)ThmbUp


If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.
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Offline RV Mech Tech

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2010, 11:54 PM »
Check out  ' www.motorhomesonfire.com '  - this includes brand new MH's that caught fire  from numerous causes -  all the more reason to have one or two on board fire extinguishers.

Offline Cakeman2253

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2010, 02:05 PM »
I just wanted to remind everyone to check their smoke detector and fire extinguisher. Just having them is not good enough. Friday night at 12:45 AM, my wife and I were out in the blue whale sleeping in the bull pen on Assateague Island. She felt her feet getting warm and a cackle and thought the blankets were wrapped around her feet and I was raiding the frig. Then she saw me sleeping and shook me and asked why is the refrigerator glowing? As I looked up, they were flames coming out of the side. I got her out and reached for the fire extinguisher, which apparently did not and was not working and neither did the smoke detector. Fortunate, from using a case of bottled water pouring some from on top the roof down the vent and squeezing water from the outside hatch we were able to put the fire out in the wall. I also had 2 good friends camping nearby that are firemen. By 2:15AM we had the refer pulled out and lying on the ground to make sure there were no amber still in the wall. Crazy night thankfully we are ok. I now have more fun repairs, along with finding a new refer that will fit in my Winnie and ripping out a wall and getting the burnt smell out of her.
Biggest point is just having them (smoke detector and fire extinguisher) is not enough? Make sure they are in working order. I know common sense, but mine did not. Like most of us, we work on these so much and sometimes it’s the little things. Make sure you have a plan if something does happen. It looks like the exhaust on the refer burped a spark.
Thanks always for the help, Bradley
God grant me calm seas, A helpful wind, A good catch, And a safe return home

Offline tiinytina

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2010, 05:39 PM »
most excellent reminder! now on my to do list....
Glad the damage was not worse and that you and yours were not toasted!

Tina
Hi from Gone to the Dawgs! 1987 Tiffin Allegro in Deale MD. CW Rocks!!!

Offline mhd_graphics

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2011, 03:09 PM »
After reading these posts, I wonder why I've never seen a built-in fire suppression system for RVs...

Offline Froggy1936

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2011, 09:11 PM »
This was a real surprise to me  My refrigerator failed (opened the door greeted by strong smell of ammonia) Upon researching a replacement unit i learned that the gases in the 3 way refrigerator Are Ammonia, Chromium Sulfate & Hydrogen. The last one is extremly flamable, if you are operating on propane and develope a leak in any part that is on the back of the refrigerator its goodbye rig. The most common is the boiler cracking due to operating off level and the sulfate cakeing in the boiler and overheating. I ordered the updated unit with a nonflamable gas (costs extra $100.00) but no longer have worry of refrigerator fire.
The Journey is the REWARD !

Offline ClydesdaleKevin

  • 11 year member
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  • Model: Imperial 35 Anniversary Edition
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  • Engine: 454
Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2011, 08:49 AM »
Didn't one of the member's rigs go up in flames several years ago because of a bad ignition switch?  Ours is acting wonky and actually gets HOT sometimes when we are driving.  We turn the power off to the dash with the battery isolator when we are parked, but its worrisome.  Would anything else cause the switch to get hot?  I'm probably going to replace it next week, since its in the dash and easy to do, and not that expensive.  Any thoughts?  My headlight switch is wonky too, so I'll probably replace that as well.  The dimmer goes off and on by itself, and you have to wiggle it to get them to come back on, and the marker lights do the same thing...they go off, wiggle the switch, and they come back on.  Replacement is in order for both switches...I dont' want a fire!!!

Kev
Kev and Patti, the furry kids, our 98 Cherokee lifted beastie tow vehicle, and The Nautilus, our 1989 Holiday Rambler Imperial 35 Anniversary Edition.

Offline Elandan2

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2011, 12:21 PM »
Hi Kev,  When any type of switch or connector heats up, it's an indication of a bad or corroded connection inside that switch or connector.  If the wire is heating up as well, it could be caused by an excessive electrical load or a bad connection further along in the circuit.  Good idea replacing the switch and be sure to check out the whole ignition circuit for a possible bad connection.  Rick
Treatzall Waste tank sanitizer, lighting, and other RV related products!
Rick Ellerbeck, 1977 Elandan II

Offline ClydesdaleKevin

  • 11 year member
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  • Engine: 454
Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2011, 09:14 AM »
I went ahead and replaced both switches, and while I was at it I cleaned up some of the wiring under the dash, which wasn't all that bad to begin with.  I found a fallen-off ground wire that went to another dash dimmer switch, and now all the little extra indicator lights light up now as well.  Yay!

The marker lights stay on now, as do the dash lights, and the ignition switch works way smoother now, and didn't get hot for the hour I had the rig running.  It also means I now have an extra key...always a good thing.

I thoroughly inspected all the dash wiring while I was at it and fixed the heater control cable, so everything under the dash is up to par and fire safe. 

Kev
Kev and Patti, the furry kids, our 98 Cherokee lifted beastie tow vehicle, and The Nautilus, our 1989 Holiday Rambler Imperial 35 Anniversary Edition.

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2012, 04:51 PM »
After 5years and $30,000.00 in restoration, this is what a electrical fire looks like. First project...

BUY A FIRE EXTINGUISHER!


Offline Jonbbrew

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2016, 12:27 AM »

Sad.sorry.cause?
Keep Er' Goin' Eh!

Jonathan

Offline Oz

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Re: Why RVs catch fire and how to protect yours from burning!
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2016, 08:25 PM »
After 5years and $30,000.00 in restoration,this is what a electrical fire looks like. First project...
Previously enjoyed our '74 - D24 Indian & '74 - D24 Indian Custom

 

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