RV Fire Safety

There is no shortage of news stories about devastating losses due to various weather conditions. Now that summer is here, the weather becomes ripe for wildfires and forest fires.

Don't let this happen to you.

Don’t let this happen to you. (Source: RV Alliance America)

I seems that the entire West is burning with reports of devastating fires in the Northwest Territories in northern Canada south to California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) on average, there are more than 106,000 wildfire forest fires each year in the US.

An equally staggering number is there are as many as 20,000 recreational vehicle fires reported each year. These numbers reflect the importance of fire safety and fire prevention to the RV lifestyle.

RV Fire Safety

The most common causes of fires in an RV include:

Transmission fluid leaking

12-volt electrical system/short circuit

Fuel leak

Open propane flames/unattended stove

Unattended space heater

Over 20,000 recreational vehicle fires reported each year.

Over 20,000 recreational vehicle fires reported each year. (Source: doityourselfrv.com)

An unnoticed flat on a towed vehicle

Spontaneous combustion from damp charcoal

Birds or critters in your flue


Hot exhaust pipe

Use of an inadequate extension cord

What you need to know about fire extinguishers

The first rule of RV firefighting is SAVE LIVES FIRST and property second.

If you can’t put the fire out in the first 30 seconds, leave it to the fire department.

Remember that your life and the lives of those traveling with you are more important than anything, absolutely anything, in the recreational vehicle.

Don’t try to rescue belongings, they can always be replaced but lives can’t be. Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT!

All RVs and towed vehicles should be equipped with fire extinguishers.

Be aware that there are four classes of fire extinguishers: A, B, C, and D, and each one is for a specific type of fire.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) requires that you keep one with a minimum rating of 5BC at each exit.

For additional protection, go with the ABC type, which can be used to put out all different types of fires. Check your extinguishers regularly to make sure they are operational. (Just because the needle shows in the green dot does not necessarily mean it’s working.)

Ensure you and everyone else traveling in the RV knows how to operate fire extinguishers. You can print the helpful acronym “PASS” (listed below) and put next to your extinguishers as a reminder.

Fire safety seminars conducted at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Fire safety seminars conducted at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher to release a locking mechanism.

Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames.

Squeeze the lever slowly to release the agent in the extinguisher.

Sweep from side to side, moving the fire extinguisher back and forth along the base until the fire is out.

Make a plan and prevent checklist

Driving with propane on can add to the danger if you are involved in an accident or have a fire. SHUT OFF THE PROPANE at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving.

Smoke detectors are required. Get a UL217 to be in code with NFPA mandates.

Check all hoses, wires, and connections before every trip and during a monthly fire check.

Eyeball your tires at each stop when you’re on a road trip.

Ensure everyone knows what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.

Educate all passengers on using a fire extinguisher.

Ensure all passengers know how to use the exits; not all doors open the same.

Review “stop, drop, and roll” technique with passengers.

Worth Pondering…

How a Fire Burns
In order for fire to occur, four elements must be present:
Fuel (wood, paper, cloth, gas, oils, fiberglass)
Oxygen (air at between 17% and 19%)
Heat (brakes, engine compartment, exhaust system, transmission)
Chemical Chain Reaction (batteries, refrigerator)
If any one of these four components are missing, a fire cannot burn.

—Mac the Fire Guy

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