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Using a fire extinguisher

A guide to RV fire extinguishers

The most important weapon you have to fight an RV fire is, of course, your trusty fire extinguisher, and everybody who is traveling in the coach should know how and when best to use them.

Ideal locations to keep them are in the galley, the bedroom and outside in an unlocked compartment. But owning a fire extinguisher isn’t enough. You must also know where they are, how to use them and make sure they’re in good working order before they’re called into action.

Check their condition

The fire extinguishers should be inspected every month to determine whether they still have pressure. If the gauge shows low or empty, it should be recharged or replaced right away.

If there’s no gauge, then it’s probably non-rechargeable and will have a “push-to-test pressure” button. If it doesn’t pop back up after it is pressed, then the pressure is too low and it needs to be replaced. Never test the extinguisher by doing a partial discharge.

Only in the event of a fire should the pin be pulled on a fire extinguisher or any of the contents allowed to be expelled, and it should be refilled immediately after use. At the refill station, ask to shoot off a burst when the extinguisher has been refilled. This gives an idea of how far it will shoot out and how long the charge will last.

Also, look over every component of the extinguisher to ensure it’s working properly. Examine the instruction labels, inspection tag, level indicator, safety pin, handle, trigger, hose, nozzle and tank.

Every month, a dry powder or dry chemical extinguisher needs to be turned upside down, shaken a few times, and tapped on the bottom so that the powder is kept loose.

Remember — always read the instructions.

Fire and extinguisher types

There are fundamentally five different types of fire (A, B, C, D, and K) with a corresponding extinguisher to deal with each type. There are also extinguishers that have multiple class ratings such as A:B, B:C, and A:B:C which can be used to put out several types of fire.

Types of fires

  • Class A – Ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, rubber, fabric or plastics.
  • Class B – Flammable liquids and gasses, including gasoline, oils, paint, lacquer and tar.
  • Class C – Firest involving live electrical equipment.
  • Class D – Combustible metals and metal alloys.
  • Class K – Fires in cooking appliances that use combustible cooking media, such as vegetable or animal oils and fats.

Rules established by the the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) require that RVs must have a B:C rated fire extinguisher by the exit.

If the extinguisher has a multiple class rating, it will not only display the labeling for the kinds of fires it can be used to put out, but, if applicable, it also show a red diagonal line through the image of what it must not be used to extinguish.

Before you set off on a trip, gather all your passengers together and make sure they know the location of every fire extinguisher and how to use them. Children should be removed to safety, and not used to attempt to fight the fire.

How to use a fire extinguisher

A great way of remembering how to use a fire extinguisher is to think of the acronym PASS, which stands for pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.

P — Pull the pin which is located at the top of the fire extinguisher.
A — Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, not the flames.
S — Squeeze the handle or trigger, standing approximately 8 to 10 feet away from the fire.
S — Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it is out.

Note: Check the individual fire extinguisher for the ideal distance you should stand from the fire.

Should you ever encounter a fire in or near your RV, remember these important tips:

  • Save lives first and property second
  • Get everyone out safely and away from the fire before attempting to fight it
  • Have somebody call 911
  • If, after one minute you cannot extinguish the fire, leave it to the professionals.

For more information about RV fires, visit Mac The Fire Guy’s website at www.macthefireguy.com.

To watch a video about RV fire extinguishers, click here.

About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is the editor of Let's RV and the editor of RV Daily Report. A Wisconsin native and father of three grown daughters, he is now based out of Arizona and travels the country in his Winnebago Adventurer motorhome interviewing industry professionals and interesting RVers alike. He can be reached at editor@letsrv.com

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