Nikki is a writer and editor for Do It Yourself RV, RV LIFE, and Camper Report. She is based on the Oregon Coast and has traveled all over the Pacific Northwest. You can follow her on Twitter at @nakeycleveland.
The most important weapon you have to fight an RV fire is, of course, your trusty RV fire extinguisher, and everybody who is traveling in the coach should know how and when best to use them.
The ideal locations to keep your RV fire extinguisher 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.
Types of Fires and Ideal RV Fire Extinguishers
There are fundamentally five different types of fires (A, B, C, D, and K) with a corresponding fire extinguisher to deal with each type.
There are also RV fire 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 – Fires 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 fire 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.
6 Best RV Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are of course an essential component of your RV’s equipment.
But with so many brands out there, which are considered the best?
The brands in the following list are considered to be the most reliable, and are presented in alphabetical order rather than in any order of superiority.
1. H3R Performance — H3 Performance excels when it comes to clean agent and dry chemical fire extinguishers. Their HG100C is a high end, Halotron 1, clean agent fire extinguisher (electrically non-conducting, volatile, or gaseous) that leaves no corrosive residue and doesn’t damage surface finishes; unlike most fire extinguishers on that market that leave a thick white residue. (get it here)
- Does not damage surfaces and will not harm your RV
- No thermal shock to electronics
- Backed by a 5 year limited warranty
- Rechargeable so it can be used multiple times
2. First Alert — A First Alert fire extinguisher can be your first line of defense in case of a fire in your home, boat, car or business. With proper care, caution and preparation, many accidents can be prevented. (get it here)
- Uses mono ammonium phosphate
- Rechargeable and good for multiple uses
- Equipped with a color coded corrosion resistant pressure gauge
- Comes with a 12 year limited warranty
- Includes mounting bracket
3. Amerex — Beginning in 1971, Amerex Corporation has grown to become the world’s largest and most innovative manufacturer of hand portable and wheeled extinguishers for commercial and industrial applications. (get it here)
- Works on ordinary combustables, flamable liquid spills and fires involving electrical equipment
- Durable all metal valve construction
- Includes wall bracket
4. Badger — Located in Charlottesville, Va., Badger offers a comprehensive range of industrial fire extinguishers, dry chemical fire suppression systems and Range Guard, the nation’s first commercial kitchen wet chemical fire suppression system. (get it here)
- Highest percentage of essential base ingredients found in the fire extinguisher industry
- Lightweight at only 6 pounds
- Includes wall hook
5. Kidde — As the world’s largest manufacturer of fire safety products, Kidde’s mission is to provide solutions that protect people and property from the effects of fire and its related hazards. For more than 90 years industry leaders, the military, airlines and firefighters have relied on Kidde to deliver superior fire detection and suppression. (get it here)
- Equipped with a gauge that indicates if it is charged and ready to use
- The handle is impact resistant
- Lightweight at only 2.5 pounds
- Includes a strap bracket
6. Shield — Quality and value are the key to Shield’s disposable Auto & Marine fire extinguishers. Manufactured from the highest quality components, Shield consistently provides reliable solutions for your fire protection needs. (get it here)
- Easy to handle at only 2.5 pounds
- Affordable single use fire extinguisher
- Made in the USA
- Includes a metal strap bracket
Another easy-to-use firefighting tool is a fire blanket.
These are made from a sheet of fire retardant material like Kevlar or fiberglass, which is used to extinguish small fires by smothering them.
A fire blanket may be preferable for a person who is inexperienced with fire extinguishers.
How to Use Your RV’s 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.
Remember — always read the instructions.
5 Preliminary Safety Checks to Avoid Having to Use Your Fire Extinguisher
An RV fire is a terrifying prospect, and if you’ve never experienced one, you probably don’t quite understand how quickly it can get out of control.
With more than 20,000 reported RV fires every year, it is probably the largest cause of RV damage in the United States.
With the following safety checks, you can greatly reduce the risks of having to use your fire extinguisher, reduce the risk losing your RV or even worse, harm coming to your loved ones.
- Ensure you have three working fire extinguishers in your RV (kitchen, bedroom, and on the outside in an unlocked compartment). Everybody traveling in your group must know how to properly operate an RV fire extinguisher, and which one to use on any particular fire.
- Immediately clean up any fuel spills. Gasoline and propane can combust quickly and soon get out of control. While diesel, although less flammable, will evaporate more slowly and pose a risk for longer.
- Look to see if there are any dirty or oily cloths lying around. Try using paper towels instead, and get rid of them in the outside trash.
- Make sure all small batteries are kept secure in a plastic container so that they cannot roll or bounce around. Loose batteries that can move about can split or combine in a way that induces a fire.
- Your stove will continue to emit propane even with the flame extinguished. To avoid the risk of an explosion, double check that it is turned off properly when you’re finished and never heat your RV with the stove.
Make sure everyone knows how to get emergency help, be it dialing 911 on the phone, or on a CB, VHF radio or ham radio.
Check the Condition of Your RV’s Fire Extinguisher
Your RV’s fire extinguisher should be inspected every month to determine whether it still has 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 fire 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.