RV Fire! Be Aware it can Happen
Table of Contents
1) RVs burn fast!
2) The smoke from a burning RV is very toxic and you should not even try to stay inside and fight the fire. Just a few lung-fulls of the acrid smoke may require hospitalization.
3) You cannot have too big a fire extinguisher.
Your RV maybe so far away from any town there is no way the firefighters can get there in time to save it.
If the fire is contained within the engine housing, do not open engine cover.
No one starts an RV trip expecting their RV to burn to the frame but it does happen. It could happen to you. Do you have a fire extinguisher? Is it the correct type and size? Do you know how to use it? Is it kept handy?
Don’t have answers to these questions? Call your local fire department. Most have fire safety classes which include teaching the proper selection and use of extinguishers. Any firefighter will be happy to answer your questions.
RV Tip: Protect Yourself and Your Family Today!
In the event of a fire, properly installed and maintained smoke alarms will provide an early warning alarm to your RV. This alarm could save your own life and those of your loved ones by providing the chance to escape.
Why Should My RV Have Smoke Alarms?
In the event of a fire, a smoke alarm can save your life and those of your loved ones. They are a very important means of preventing RV fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal — so you and your family can escape. Smoke alarms are one of the best safety devices you can buy and install to protect yourself, your family, and your RV.
What Types of Smoke Alarms Are Available?
There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.
Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs. Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. There are also combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms.
Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because RV owners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a RV, the USFA recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke alarms.
In addition to the basic types of alarms, there are alarms made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.
Where Would I Get Smoke Alarms?
Many hardware, home supply, or general merchandise stores carry smoke alarms. If you are unsure where to buy one in your community, call your local fire department (on a nonemergency telephone number) and they will provide you with some suggestions. Some fire departments offer smoke alarms for little or no cost.
How Do I Keep My Smoke Alarm Working?
If you have a smoke alarm with batteries:
- Smoke Alarms powered by long-lasting batteries are designed to replace the entire unit according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- In standard type battery powered smoke alarms, the batteries need to be replaced at least once per year and the whole unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
- In hard-wired, battery back up smoke alarms, the batteries need to be checked monthly, and replaced at least once per year. The entire unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
What if the Alarm Goes Off While I’m Cooking?
Then it’s doing its job. Do not disable your smoke alarm if it alarms due to cooking or other non-fire causes. You may not remember to put the batteries back in the alarm after cooking. Instead clear the air by waving a towel near the alarm, leaving the batteries in place. The alarm may need to be moved to a new location. Some of the newer models have a “hush” button that silences nuisance alarms.
Carbon Monoxide/Gas Alarm
New CO and explosive gas alarm protects you and your family from two deadly threats: carbon monoxide and natural gas. Sleek design fits conveniently into any standard wall outlet.
- Made By KIDDE (3 versions available)
- Advanced alarm detects both carbon monoxide and explosive gas (natural gas)
- AC Plug with Hide-A-Way Cord: Allows direct or remote plug-in
- Battery Back-Up: Provides protection during a power outage
- Digital Readout of CO Level: Continuous readout of measured CO values from 30-999 ppm
- Loud 85 dB alarm: Alerts you if CO or explosive gas levels become dangerous
- Peak Level Memory: Recalls highest CO concentration detected
- Size: 4″W X 3.125″D X 6″H
- Weight: 1.7LB
- Cubic Feet: .15
How to Reduce the Risk of an RV Fire
According to recently completed research by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. public fire departments responded to an estimated 266,500 highway-type vehicle fires during 2004. These fires claimed 520 lives, caused 1,300 injuries and nearly a billion dollars in property damage. Also, highway vehicle fires accounted for 17 percent of all reported fires and 13 percent of all civilian fire deaths. Highway vehicles include cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs and other vehicles commonly driven on roads or highways. Recreational vehicle fires are most often caused by mechanical or electrical failure.
Although drivers may believe fires occur mostly from collisions, this is not true. According to NFPA statistics, more than two-thirds of highway vehicle fires resulted from mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions. Collisions or rollovers caused only 3% of these fires. .For this reason recreational vehicle owners should have a comprehensive maintenance inspection of their motorhomes and travel trailers every 12 months.
Recreational vehicle owners and the technicians that inspect their RVs need to be especially alert to damaged wiring and loose electrical connections, worn or blistered fluid lines and leaking connections, severely worn brake components, wheel bearings, and damaged heat shields; especially those protecting catalytic converters, exhaust manifolds and other high temperature heat sources.
To further reduce the risks associated with RV fires, RVers need to be knowledgeable about what to do – and not to do — if their recreational vehicle catches fire.
NFPA recommend the following:
STOP – If possible, pull to the side of the road and turn off the ignition. Pulling to the side makes it possible for everyone to get out of the vehicle safely. Turn off the ignition to shut off the electric current and stop the flow of gasoline. Put the vehicle in park or set the emergency brake; you don’t want the vehicle to move after your leave it. Do not open the hood because more oxygen can make the fire larger and exposes you to a sudden flare up.
GET OUT – Make sure everyone gets out of the vehicle, but do not waste time and increase risk by removing personal belongings. Then move at least 100 feet away. Keep traffic in mind and keep everyone together. There is not only danger from the fire, but also from other vehicles moving in the area.
CALL FOR HELP – Call 911 or the emergency number for your local fire department. Firefighters are specially trained to combat vehicle fires. Never return to the vehicle to attempt to fight the fire yourself. Vehicle fires can be tricky, even for firefighters. Pressurized components can burst or explode, spilling or spraying highly flammable liquids, or eject projectiles than can cause serious injuries.
Tips to Reduce the Risk of a Recreational Vehicle Fire
— Have your vehicles inspected at least annually by a trained, professional technician.
— Watch for fluid leaks under vehicles, cracked or blistered hoses, or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or has cracked insulation. Have any of these conditions inspected and repaired as soon as possible.
— Be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, and to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. A louder than usual exhaust tone, smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust could mean problems or damage to the high-temperature exhaust and emission control system on the vehicle. Have your RV safety inspected and repaired as soon as possible if exhaust or emission control problems are suspected.