Looking over RV fire statistics makes for chilling reading, with over 20,000 estimated RV fires per year. RV fire safety is an important part of RV ownership, something that is unfortunately often neglected, until it’s too late. So, I decided to write up this quick RV fire extinguisher 101, to give you the lowdown on RV fire extinguishers.
Maybe, you already know a good deal about fire safety, but just stop and consider for a moment all of the added fire risks posed by RVs. For a start, you’ve got the obvious like fuel, brakes, electric circuits, then add on highly combustible materials and top it all off with a kitchen. If you’ve never seriously thought about your RV fire safety, then now’s a good time to make sure everything’s in order.
If you do just one thing to improve your chances of putting out a small fire and potentially saving your RV intact and even you own life, then I seriously recommend purchasing a couple of these First Alert Extinguishing Aerosols right away. They discharge four times longer than traditional fire extinguishers and are ideal for small spaces, such as RVs, making them possibly the best RV fire extinguisher. Coming up with and improving your RV fire safety plan can take time, so don’t get caught out. These non-toxic, easy-to-use aerosols are essential for your rig and they won’t damage your interior. It gives me peace of mind knowing I’ve got several throughout my living and sleeping areas and that they’re safe on paper, fabric, wood, grease and electrical fires, so I don’t even need to hesitate, because seconds can cost lives.
Now you’ve got your fire extinguishing aerosols on their way, let’s take a look at all you need to know about the best RV fire extinguishers.
What to look for in an RV fire extinguisher
To help you to find the right fire extinguisher for your RV, I’ve put together this list of the most important factors that you’ll need to bear in mind when choosing your RV fire extinguishers. Make sure you read through all of my recommendations, having the correct RV fire safety equipment can make all the difference between an inconvenient bit of interior redecoration or complete devastation and possibly even worse…
So, pay attention! Here’s what you need to know when it comes down to choosing your RV fire extinguishers and fire safety equipment.
Types of fire extinguisher
Fire extinguishers come in a variety of types. Each type is specifically designed to put out a specific type of fire. Using the wrong type could potentially make your fire worse, so it’s important to make sure that you have the right types of fire extinguisher to hand in your RV.
Fire extinguishers are labelled with letters to indicate which type of fire they are suitable for use on. To help you to get a better idea of what types you’ll need, I’ve included a quick rundown of the fire types that are most likely to break out in an RV and their letters.
- Class A – fires burning paper, plastics, wood, rubber and general everyday combustibles.
- Class B – Flammable gases and liquids
- Class C – Fires involving electrical equipment.
- Class D – Fires involving metals.
- Class K – Cooking fires involving animal and vegetable fats.
The NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) recommend that you have a BC rated fire extinguisher near to your RV’s main exit. Depending on your RV size, you may need several different types throughout. Multiple-rated RV fire extinguishers are common and allow you to save space and take on a wider range of small fires safely.
Here’s three of the most common RV fire extinguishers types:
- Dry Chemical fire extinguishers for types A.B.& C
- Air Pressurized Water (APW) for type A fires
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) for types B&C fires
RV fire extinguisher capacity & weight
Different sized RVs will be better with different sized fire extinguishers. If you’ve got a small camper, then a 2.5 lb fire extinguisher should be fine. Larger RVs will be better served by carrying a few 5 lb or above extinguishers as well as smaller ones.
Changing out your RV fire extinguishers? Then don’t forget you may need to change your RV fire extinguisher mounting too. It is essential that your RV fire extinguishers are well mounted. You do not want a fire extinguisher rolling around your RV. Not only do you risk it losing its efficacy, a loose fire extinguisher can be one dangerous projectile that can do some severe damage to your decor.
A correctly mounted RV fire extinguisher is easy to remove, visible and unobstructed. Think carefully about where you want to locate any new RV fire extinguishers or if you’re having an RV remodel then work your RV fire extinguisher locations into your plans from the start.
Always keep an eye on your RV fire extinguisher expiration dates. Whether you mark them on your calendar, in your smartphone or with your general RV maintenance dates, make sure that your get your extinguishers replaced or refurbished well before their expiration dates.
RVs are expensive to say the least. When you invest that amount of time and money into something, you sure don’t want to see it go up in smoke. However, you also don’t want to be faced with an extremely expensive clean-up bill after using a toxic chemical fire extinguisher. Plus your temporary accommodation bill if you’re a full timer. So while you’ll need to have extinguishers that can get the job done, regardless of the aftermath, make sure you also include some non-toxic RV fire extinguishers that you can rely upon for appropriate fire types. As mentioned earlier fire extinguisher aerosols are a popular non-toxic choice, that avoid hefty clean-up costs after use.
In case your RV is getting on a bit, or you’ve recently purchased a vintage model, double check that all of the extinguishers do not contain any plastic parts, in addition to checking the expiry dates and so forth. Any with plastic parts must be replaced immediately. There has been a massive recall of millions of Kibble fire extinguishers with plastic parts. Plastic parts can cause your extinguisher to mal function, or in some cases, not function at all.
Personally, with a new-to-you RV, I would replace any extinguishers that are getting on a bit, even if they still look good. Why take the risk? Especially when you have no way of knowing how the previous owners carried out their routine RV fire safety checks.
How many fire extinguishers do you need in your RV?
Good question. While you need to have at least a B.C. rated fire extinguisher near to your main exit, depending upon the size of your RV and your set up, it’s a case of the more the better. I recommend always having an appropriate type fire extinguisher for each of the main parts of your RV. So one for the kitchen area, one near the exit for the seating area, another for the bedroom and one outside in an unlocked, easily accessible compartment. That, to my mind, is the bare minimum.
I also strongly recommend a fire blanket for your kitchen in case your pan ever catches fire when you’re cooking. The great thing is they can put out small, localized fires like cooking pans without making any mess whatsoever. A must for anyone who’s less than 100% in the kitchen, given all of the flammable materials that RV interiors are made of…
Using an extinguisher
Do not risk your life trying to tackle a large blaze, get out and dial 911 immediately.
Make sure that all adults know the location of your fire extinguishers and which types can be found where. Here’s how to use your fire extinguisher to tackle small fires.
- Assess the fire – make a quick judgement call, can you put it out easily? Will attempting to do so put you in danger? Place yourself in proximity to your emergency exit, so that if you’re not successful you can step back and exit your RV ASAP. It is of upmost importance that you have a clear escape route at all times.
- Select the appropriate extinguisher for the fire type as discussed above.
- If you are certain you can safely attempt extinguishing the fire, without any obstructions to a quick exit, then tackle the fire following the P.A.S.S technique. This technique is recommended by fire-fighting professionals.
The P.A.S.S. Technique
To help you to keep your calm and tackle your fire methodically, follow the P.A.S.S technique.
- P – Pin. Pull out the fire extinguisher pin.
- A – Aim at the base of the fire. You want to target the fire’s fuel.
- S – Squeeze the lever (or press the button, or action whatever release mechanism your extinguisher has.)
- S – Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire.
Repeat the last three steps until the fire is completely extinguished.
Care and maintenance
I cannot emphasise this enough, always keep up to date with your routine RV fire safety maintenance. Depending upon your RV fire extinguisher types, the recommended maintenance and routine checks can vary, so always read up on your individual appliances. Here’s what I recommend doing:
- Factor in routine RV fire extinguisher checks into your other maintenance programs, this way you’re less likely to skip it over.
- Pay particular attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Dry powder RV fire extinguishers will need more attention and you will need to shake them up to loosen compacted powder from time to time. Doing so will ensure that they remain in good working order.
- I find it useful to keep a pocket notebook with details of my extinguisher maintenance, model numbers and dates. If you’re kind of forgetful, like myself, you can just take a quick look and see straightaway when you really did last thoroughly inspect your RV fire safety gear and when you need to replace any items.
Other essential RV fire safety equipment
In case you missed my article on Must-Have RV Accessories, I’m going to reiterate the absolute necessity of a carbon monoxide detector and alarm. I’m also going to share with you this fantastic little device that I recently purchased after my friend’s rig caught fire. Luckily he managed to put it out and was only left with a little smoke damage, but it makes you think. Anyway, I purchased one of these First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Crazy, all these years on the road and I never even thought of a smoke detector for my rig. As you probably know a CO detector is an absolute must in any confined space like an RV, so please, please, if you do just one thing today, get one of these ordered. This could save your life, you family’s lives and your RV, we fit them as standard in our brick n mortar homes, so why not in our RVs?
Another little must-have has got to be a fire blanket, especially useful for those cooking fires. Here I have to confess, I recently had to replace mine after my Sunday pot roast went up in smoke. So I had the chance to test out my smoke detector for real. Used the blanket and luckily I had no damage to my kitchen. But you never know what life’s going to throw at you next, so be prepared.
Your RV fire safety equipment could save your life, not only your RV. Hence the importance of purchasing the best RV fire extinguisher. I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and that it has been informative for you. If you have any RV fire safety issues, do not hesitate to get in touch with a fire safety professional for tailored, expert advice. In the meantime, kit yourself out with those Fire Extinguishing Aerosols and be ready to tackle any small fire that may break out. Remember, stay safe and if you don’t think you can safely tackle a fire, exit your RV immediately and call 911. Possessions are replaceable, your life isn’t. So stay safe and take care.