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Old 07-25-2007, 09:19 PM   #1
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Fire Saftey in TT's

Fellow Campers

We talk about so much, but fire safety we do not talk a lot on.

I'm not a fire fighter by trade and do not claim to be one. But when I bought my TT I did do extensive research on TT, fires and RV fire extinguishers to better educate myself as I knew I needed to learn some new things. If any fire fighters out there find anything wrong in what I state, please set me straight. This is a site to learn from, me included.

Below is a complied amount of info I have come up with. Most of these things are just realizing what can occur in an RV and to think in advance. A lot of us may not have really given a lot of this much thought, but maybe this post will start us to talk about it and we all think about it.

What would you do if a fire broke out?
What prevention system do you have in place?
Do you have a plan?

Some things to remember.

1. An RV is made of a lot of plastic or other synthetic parts. They burn hotter/faster than normal homes and the toxic fumes are deadly if you are inside.

2. In an RV, the spaces are very small. Fire doubles in size every 10 - 20 seconds. If flames are present the entire inside can be engulfed in 1 - 2 minutes. Once it's engulfed the fumes will knock you out and you will not get out.

3. Basically when a fire breaks out inside an RV, seconds is all you have. If you can act immediately before it grows, having on board good sized extinguishers may stop it or slow it down to get you out. If after 10 seconds, it's out of control, that it's get out and do not go back in. The case studies show every time someone goes back in, they do not come out.

4. If you have family in side, they have to get out first. Remember you only have "seconds' and after they are out it may already be too late to try to stop it. Fighting an engulfed RV fire is a no win situation unless the fire company is there. The fire extinguishers buys you only seconds to get out.

5. The best protection we as RV'ers have is

1st, education/practice on what to do/getting out. Make a plan with your family and practice it.

2nd, early detection, use more than 1 smoke alarm.

3rd, Carbon monoxide and propane detectors. Have them and test them often along with the smoke detectors. Replace batteries annually and date the battery. Seeing an over due date is a good reminder.

4th. Have many fire extinguishers and know how to use them, I have 4, 1 in galley, 1 in bedroom, 1 outside in unlocked compartment, 1 in truck and I only have a 26 foot TT.

6. At night I have in my pants next to the bed my camper keys and truck keys. No time to think where you put them last and they may be in the other end of the camper in the fire. Or if the fire is in the middle and your kids at the other end, opening the door from the outside for them to get out takes a key. Only if you have it.

7. I do most all cooking out doors unless weather is real bad. If you do cook indoors cooking grease or oil can be your worst enemy. Be careful. Having a large pot lid handy, “before” you start cooking to smoother out a pan fire can maybe save your camper.

8. Electric heaters or any other electric heat producing device, do not overload your camper. Most 30 amp campers can only handle 1 heat producing device at a time. 1 toaster, 1 hair dray, 1 heater, that is it. If they say 1100 to 1500 watts, one at a time.

9. On the propane and shore cord. Only time and exact circumstances fit here. If you are running out and the fire is smoking and not burning, you might have about 30 seconds to 1 minute to pull the line cord and turn off the propane. If the fire is next to the propane/electric, It's too late, get away as fast as you can.

10. When you come upon the rig that is burning in flames, it is already to late. Call the fire company and keeping others away as they do not understand RV fires and this is the only safe thing you could do. Even though it seems helpless.

11. The RV fire safety standards are different for pop ups verses hard sided campers. Neither have very fire resistant materials in them. The mini required BC rated fire extinguisher that comes with the camper is no where large enough for all your needs. Hopefully in years to come more will be done on better fire codes for RV's. See here on PU story

12. Fire extinguishers. Educate your self on them, the different types and how to use them and how to maintain them. If you are using dry chemical ones, they should be monthly tuned upside down and tapped to loosen the powder. Bumping down the road can pack them hard inside even faster than normal. Once the powder hardens, they no longer work even is the gage reads OK.

Go to a class to be trained by a professional on how to use an extinguisher. If you happen to be at a RV rally see if Mac Mcoy is doing a RV fire safety presentation. If so, attend it, he is good. Here is a link:Mac Mcoy web site with fire safety articles. I have spoken to him on the phone about certain type of fire extinguishers. This was before he had his site up and running and offer to the open public.

Through Mac Mcoy I have found an AB and C rated non conductive up to 250 volts, which is a Kidde Fire Out Foam extinguisher. These fire Out Foam extinguishers are a step up from the dry chem units. They are good from 4 deg F to 140 deg F so they will not work below zero.Kidde PN 466620 This is just one place that offers them as I could find a link to the new head ones. I have found them for $39.00 as well.

They are non toxic and come in 2 liter size. The new ones have the C rating and a new re-chargeable head on them as shown in the link above. You may find Older units not yet C ratedthat are only AB rated as the test was only recently available for the C rating. But it is now available. What is in side has not changed but the rating has. I bought mine at Home Depot and Anderson's General store. Mac Mcoy also has other foam units for sale on his web site.

Here is a pic of the new ABC rated one with the new looking head on it.


Due to my TT layout I have 4 extinguishers on board and 2 smoke detectors.

My mid bathroom cuts the TT in half. A smoke detector is out in the kitchen area and one in the bed room.

On the extinguishers, 1 is in the truck.

One outside in the front cargo hole. For when I’m outside and a fire breaks out.


One in the kitchen area.


One in the bed room area.


If the fire breaks out in the kitchen and we are in the bed room, I have one handy to use to help so we can get out. And this works for the other way around if the fire is in the bed room, I have one in the kitchen. Only having 1 small fire extinguisher on board while it meets current day code, does not cover many options a fire has in your TT.

You will noticed I talked about fire extinguishers helping you get out a lot. While the extinguisher is there to help you, it only buys you seconds and is the most effective if the fire just started. Once the fire is fully burning, the extinguisher will not help and we are not trained well enough to actually fight a fire. The camper is gone, get yourself and family out.

A fire fueled by a propane line most times has more energy in it then the little fire extinguisher we have in our hand trying to put it out. Use it to get out and that is all you can do.

Hope this helps

Others with more help, please join in.

John
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:47 PM   #2
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John,
I want to thank you for that VERY useful info. We do take the TT for granted sometimes and do not think of the dangers lurking around us with Propane, electric and campfires. Thanks for the wake-up call, I'll be sure to take another look at my precautionary steps. Marshall
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Old 07-26-2007, 12:14 AM   #3
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John,

That is very good info to know. In both my '94's, we installed new smoke detectors, a CO detector, and a LPG detector. These safety devices are so important, especially in the older trailers that didn't have anything other than a smoke detector originally. Plus, older trailers with older systems have a greater chance of something going wrong. In my 2363, the previous owners recently replaced the original smoke detector, but it was in the front. With two separate rooms (like you have also), it is important to have the smoke detectors in both places, so a new one got installed in the bedroom. I have to say, all of the trailers I've bought have had dead or almost dead smoke detector batteries. BTW, the CO and LPG detectors I use are hard wired, so they run off the house battery. I've used the Saf-T-Alert brand for all three detectors.

The one thing I'd add to your info is that if it's safe, you should try to remove the propane bottles on the front of the trailer if it is engulfed and set them off to the side. I have seen a couple TT/FW fires on the sides of highways before and the first thing firefighters do (if it's safe) is remove the LP tanks. This way, if the fire really spreads, they won't explode and launch themselves somewhere.

And of course, get everybody away from the burning vehicle as far as possible, especially if the LP tanks are still on. If you can, move the TV away from the TT for two reasons: 1) the TV won't catch on fire too, and 2) The firefighters will have more room to work.

Jon
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Old 07-26-2007, 05:41 AM   #4
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John,

Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Definitely very good information and food for thought.

Hutch
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Old 07-26-2007, 03:28 PM   #5
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Thanks for a well thought out post.....we also have numerous fire extinguishers in the TT & TV.

One other thing that we do or should I say we don't do is DEAD BOLT the doors at night! If there is a fire, you want fast and easy exit!

When we camp with our grandson, we also have a "meeting point" - if there is a problem in/around the TT - we are all to "meet" at a designated spot, which is determined when we get to a CG...this is something that is taught by our fire department to our preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade classes! We educate the little ones and hopefully they educate their parents!

Again thanks for such a great post!
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Old 07-26-2007, 03:59 PM   #6
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Being a volunteer firefighter, all the information that has been stated is correct. The best thing to do is prevention. If you do have a fire, no matter how small, get everyone out, have someone call for help and only fight the fire if you can . Your little extinguisher that comes with the coach is only good for small fires. I back mine up with a larger dry chemical ( ABC type) in the TV. A fire ext. that is in the immediate area of the fire sometimes can't be reached due to the fire. That's why you see your extinguisher mounted near the door in a coach. You are near an exit in case the fire grows out of control and you have to get out. The most immediate danger is the toxic smoke. You are most likely to pass out first before the flames can reach you. WHEN IN DOUBT, GET OUT !!!

Remember, if the fire is too large or the propane is involved, GET AWAY!!! That is what you carry insurance for. You can always buy a replacement coach but you can never replace your loved ones.

When it comes to a propane fire or any hazardous material problem, there are two rules to remember.

1. The 180 RLH. You turn 180 degrees and run like H***.

2. The rule of thumb. You face the fire and hold up your thumb. If your thumb doesn't hide the problem, your still too close.

Let the properly trained personel deal with it. Even if you lose your trailer, in the future you can still tell the story fireside about how your partner burned up the Sunline trying to make deep fried pork rinds.

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Old 07-26-2007, 04:32 PM   #7
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The basic facts are that TT is a small space, fire will spread quickly and fill it with heat, smoke and poison gasses. A person inside could be rendered unconsious in seconds.

I make sure everyone camping with us knows where the closest exit is and how to open it.

Smoke, gas and CO detectors are a must. They provide lifesaving early warning.

Keep your TT insured and keep it free of fire hazards. No paper on or near the cooking range or furnace, never.

If you have a fire, get everyone out immediately. If the extinguisher doesn't put it out within a few seconds get out yourself.
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Old 07-26-2007, 06:16 PM   #8
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Just thought of another thing. For those who do not have an exit door from the bedroom, you should have an escape window. Read how to operate it. I don't know if the window comes off the trailer when you open it via the emergency procedure. It would make sense to me to try it to see if it's not stuck closed. When the time comes to use it,it may be too late to find that it does not work. You should ask your dealer how it works and try the operation if it doesn't fall off the trailer and get damaged or have the dealer show you on one of his own units. I have never seen anyone try this and coming from a tent camper, I never have had this option before.

Always have two means of escape from where you are. At home and in the coach.

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Old 07-28-2007, 04:47 PM   #9
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Hey Moderators, this should be a sticky!!

This type of info is so valuable and should be read by everyone!!

When we did our walk through, our guy told us "If a fire ever breaks out, RLH and call you insurance company to talk about ordering a new model!" Basically the fire extinguisher is only going to buy you a few seconds, the rest is making sure your loved ones are out while you watch the memories burn up.

Great post, and should be read by everyone!!

Pat
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