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Author Topic: Refrigerator  (Read 5854 times)

03 cobra sb

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Refrigerator
« on: August 30, 2011, 09:50:02 AM »
Do you run your refrigerator when you drive? Is it really safe to do so.
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jswalls110

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2011, 09:56:36 AM »
Yes and yes.

I have done it with our old popup and now with our motorhome.

I turn it off when I fuel up, and when road signs tell me I have too (tunnels etc.)
Jeff and Anne
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Ned

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2011, 10:04:01 AM »
Ours is always on, except when fueling and getting propane.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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John From Detroit

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2011, 11:34:54 AM »
Joining the chorus.

Insurance companies say "Turn off propane when driving"  I will cite two hypothetical cases (Actually both have happened in real life)

Driver one listens to the insurance company and turns off the propane.. he drives to an FMCA rally where the rigs are parked nose to tail, so close you can't put the awnings out and since they are boondocking (no power hookups) he turns on the propane to keep the food cold.

His fridge catches fire and by the time the Fire Dept gets there 2 more rigs are fully involved and 3 more damaged.


Driver #2 does not listen to the insurnce, His fridge catches fire at 55mph on the freeway while on his way to the aforementioned rally, the RV behind him (One of the ones damaged in story 1) sees the flames and manages to get his attention from the non-fire side, Sufferes NO damage and ends up giving him a ride to the rally (Where he gets a new rig with his insurance check) no secondry damage at all.


Which insurance provider do you think saved the most money?
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TravelinTiffin

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2011, 11:38:28 AM »
To the O.P. : yes it's safe to run the fridge as your drive down the road. RVIA,, NFPA and other governing regulations stipulate a fuel shut-off be automatic in the event of a flame-out scenario. A thermocouple will sense the lack of heat and shut-off the flow of LPG. This is the primary safety concern and very unlikely wind-blown induced scenario under normal climatic conditions. Many operate furnaces & fridge units as they drive down the road.

One clevate: the appliance must be operated "safely" [and a sub-set of this: extinguished in the vicinity of flammables (as stated above)]. Safe operation also warrants a diligent attention span at start-up , for example: 

John, you said both of these have actually occurred?  Aside from the off-chance of a ruptured line [would require some sort of physical intervention], most, it not 100% of these fires could be blamed on a "fouled-up" burner jet orifice. You are confusing the "safe" operation vs. an inattentive one.  Both of your hypothetical scenarios suggest a lapse of Owner hands-on visual confirmation of a good start-up of the device. Had either owner did a good follow-up, no extensive vehicle damage would have occurred.

Oftentimes it's a simple matter of pre-inspecting the burner jet to remove dirt-dobbler nests, etc. and verify a nice even-burning "Blue" flame colour.
These propane devices have nooks-and-crannies well suited for insect nest making.  [A well know fact down here in the southern states of the U.S.]

For those areas affected: A once-a-season appliance inspection is not often enough to catch a insect-fabricated obstruction. Those devils can whip up a rock hard clay dauble and stuff it with eggs within a three day's time [Unless you have a insect-proof wire screen to prevent their entry]. A complacent owner, who hops into the cab and turns "ON" the appliance to propane operation without having done a regular eye witness inspection of the burner box, does so at a risk. A mere walk-back to the appliance grille and witnessing to the startup sound and giving it a 2-3 minute look-over as the flame settles into it's rhythm....will alert you to any diverting or "blow-back" of the flame from the intended burner assembly.

Again, this is not all inclusive; but many have lost a fridge simply from the lack of inspecting it beforehand. And that's a shame since it's so preventable up front by installing a simple screen covering.

« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 11:40:03 AM by TravelinTiffin »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2011, 12:00:18 PM »
Mud daubers indeed are problematic, but I doubt if they cause any fridge fires. Typically they cause the fridge to not light in LP mode. Rarely they may force the flame out of the normal burner area, but that usually results in a "no flame' or "no cooling" shutdown within a minute or two.

The #1 cause  of fridge fires is leaking cooling units - that's what all the fridge recalls have been about. The boiler badly overheats because the burner continues to supply heat after the coolant in the boiler & tubing has leaked away and something catches fire. It can happen in either electric or LP mode and is no more likley to happen on the highway than it is while parked.
Gary
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Mopar1973Man

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2011, 12:24:09 PM »
I agree with TravelinTiffin and Gary both...

I've always allowed my fridge to run while driving. Never had a issue but I believe in once a month inspections of my vehicles. (At the time it was a 1976 dodge Jamboree Motorhome). So I would deal with the engine and driveline then move to the house part and inspect all the applicances.

Now with the 2000 Jayco I tend to listen to the fridge fire up and inspect the flame every so often to be sure it lighting up anf burning properly. Takes all of what 5-10 seconds to lift the access cover and check the flame and burner..

But alway shut down all LP applicances when I get fuel or long stops in parking lots.
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John From Detroit

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2011, 12:39:34 PM »
John, you said both of these have actually occurred?  Aside from the off-chance of a ruptured line [would require some sort of physical intervention], most, it not 100% of these fires could be blamed on a "fouled-up" burner jet orifice.

I do agree with you that most many fridge fires are the result of poor preventive maintenance and lack of attention.

Some are the result of ... Well both Dometic and Norcold have done recalls due to this problem.

But I do agree that proper PM cn prevent many, likely most of them.

However, I was not confusing the issues you cite.. I was only casting wonder on the thinking of the insurance companies.

The question was "Is it safe to operate on the road" and the answer I was trying to convey is "No different than operating parked"  (At lest with modern DSI units)

As for the dangers of not doing proper maintenance.. Well, You covered it well.

But my thinking is this: IF the fridge is going to catch fire, for whatever reason, I'd rather it happen on the road than when RV's are packed in like sardines in a can.
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yfx4

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2011, 01:15:27 PM »
We often run the generator while we drive to keep the AC going. Rarely do we rely on the propane on the road for that reason. We have traveled in winter and used the propane w/o a problem at all. Because we store it when not used I spend a day checking, inspecting, lubing, airing, washing, filling, sanitizing.........so all the burners/ignitors get inspected and checked with supervision before use.
Scott

2005 Winnebago Adventurer
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Mavarick

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2011, 07:59:15 PM »
I have no problem using mine when we drive but find that a lot of the time I really don't need to. Unless we are in 90 deg. temps or will be driving for many hours I just shut it off when we leave in the am (it has been running all night). If we are at our destination in 3 or 4 hours and stay out of it, it really doesn't seem to drop much (I have a small temp gauge hanging in there). You can always turn it on when you stop for lunch if needed.
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1275gtsport

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2011, 07:22:36 PM »
the question of being able to run the fridge while driving comes up a lot on just about every board I have been on. the funny thing is no one asks if it is safe to drive your car with that plastic fuel tank hanging inches from the road and open to all kinds of damage from many hazards.
I just pulled this from the Campbell-Parnell web site (first one that came up on my search) http://www.usealtfuels.com/propane.htm


"Like gasoline, propane is flammable, but has a much narrower range of flammability than gasoline and much higher ignition temperature 920- 1020 degrees vs. 80- 300 degrees for gasoline. Propane will only burn with a fuel-to-air ratio of between 2.2% and 9.6% and will rapidly dissipate beyond its flammability range in the open atmosphere-making ignition unlikely.

Propane is non-toxic, unlike gasoline, diesel, methanol and ethanol. If a propane storage tank should ever leak, there would be no contamination danger to the surrounding soil or water.

Since 1984, all new propane tanks are required to have a device that shuts off the filling process when the tank reaches 80% of its liquid capacity. This allows for changes in fuel volume caused by temperature variations.

Propane vehicle tanks are constructed from carbon steel under code developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). A propane tank is 20 times more puncture-resistant and can withstand up to 4 times the pressure when compared to a typical gasoline, methanol, or ethanol tank. In addition, a properly installed propane tank can actually add to the structural strength of a vehicle. "

So really we all should be more worried about those 50 gallon gas tanks :)


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Tony_Alberta

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2011, 10:18:45 PM »
Propane will only burn with a fuel-to-air ratio of between 2.2% and 9.6% and will rapidly dissipate beyond its flammability range in the open atmosphere-making ignition unlikely.
So I'm reading the instructions of my new BBQ and read something along the lines.  If the propane doesn't immediately ignite close the valve, wait five minutes and attempt to relight it.   I'm thinking, with all those air vents along the bottom and the lid is open, who is going to wait five minutes.  Nobody, except the lawyers.

Natetheskate

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2011, 09:42:25 PM »
Since we're on the subject of fridge fires, wasn't there a company that made fire extinguishers solely for use in RV fridges?  What was that name?

krp

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2011, 08:00:42 PM »
I do not run mine because, I replaced the Dometic with and electric frig.  I find it much safer and just as easy to run it for awhile while hooked to AC power or generator and then turn it off.  Felt much better spending $250.00 for it than $1300.00 for another Dometic.

03 cobra sb

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2011, 09:12:48 PM »
I do not run mine because, I replaced the Dometic with and electric frig.  I find it much safer and just as easy to run it for awhile while hooked to AC power or generator and then turn it off.  Felt much better spending $250.00 for it than $1300.00 for another Dometic.

With a apt size portable or did you put it in the same hole?
90 Itasca 27' Class 'C'
Two of us and 1 lazy Basset named 'Lady'
92 Ford Ranger 'Toad"
Colorado

Tony_Alberta

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2011, 10:19:53 PM »
I do not run mine because, I replaced the Dometic with and electric frig.  I find it much safer and just as easy to run it for awhile while hooked to AC power or generator and then turn it off.  Felt much better spending $250.00 for it than $1300.00 for another Dometic.
But if you are in a trailer or fifth wheel then your batteries should be charging with 10 amps while driving so that should be adequate.  And if you're in a MH then more amps should be going to your batteries.

krp

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2011, 03:01:11 PM »
My replacement frig. was the perfect size to replace the Dometic.  I bought 2 "sticks" of trim at Lowes and trimmed it out all around. A great little unit that I have to keep turned down because it gets so cold.  Note: I also purchased the frig. at Lowes.


KRP

wbilotta

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2011, 08:32:27 PM »
Not trying to thread jack but how does burning propane make the refrigerator cold ?
2001 Damon Intruder 369

Ned

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2011, 09:17:26 PM »
Not trying to thread jack but how does burning propane make the refrigerator cold ?

See here.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Mopar1973Man

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DearMissMermaid

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2011, 01:32:34 PM »
For the past 18 months of fulltiming, I have always driven with my fridge running off propane, once in a great while I run the generator while driving which puts the fridge on electric, but very rarely. My fridge is usually full of food so I want to keep it fresh and cold.

However, I decided the ONE fire extinguisher that came with the motorhome is not enough in the event of an emergency, so I bought two more fire extinguishers. 

 I figure three fire extinguishers certainly adds to the "good luck" factor.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2011, 03:08:46 PM »
Do you use the extra extinguishers as a "jet assist" to help you run away from the flames faster? Cause fighting an RV fire with an extinguisher is seldom advisable. I say that, even though we do carry two extinguishers ourselves.

In my opinion, an automatic system installed on the fridge cooling unit is about the only worthwhile protection.
Gary
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Lady Fitzgerald

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2011, 03:38:57 PM »
Portable fire extinguishers are useful to keep a small (really small) fire from getting larger or for knocking part of a larger fire back enough to get out.

I would guess, beyond know to pull the pin before pulling the trigger, the vast majority of people have no clue how to properly use an extinguisher and what their limitations are. I'm fortunate in that a former employer of mine sent its employees to hands on training on how to use extinguishers every few years. It would be well worth the money for everyone who has extinguishers to get the proper training.
Jeannie

Between RVs (to put it mildly) but planning on buying a TT to full time in.

rsalhus

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2011, 05:05:04 PM »
Quote
Do you use the extra extinguishers as a "jet assist" to help you run away from the flames faster? Cause fighting an RV fire with an extinguisher is seldom advisable. I say that, even though we do carry two extinguishers ourselves.

In my opinion, an automatic system installed on the fridge cooling unit is about the only worthwhile protection.


I choose to differ with you, Gary.  We had a fridge fire that I put out completely with a small fire extinguisher.  Although I admit I was lucky because by the time I got on the roof of the MH, the fridge vent had already melted from the flames shooting through it.  This gave me an opening where I could aim the fire extinguisher directly at the flames shooting up and quickly put out the fire.  I believe that if I had started using the fire extinguisher before the vent had melted, I wouldn't have been able to put the fire out before emptying the fire extinguisher.


I think it's safe to say that most fridge fires start in the back of the fridge, and are fueled by the ammonia gas escaping and catching on fire.  There are only two ways to get at the fire:  from the outside of the RV through the fridge access door and from the roof of the RV through the fridge vent.  It would be very difficult to point a fire extinguisher up through the outside access door and put the fire out because the fire would be much higher than the access door and there are too many things blocking the passage to get enough of the fire retardant up near the fire to put it out.  That leaves the fridge vent on the roof of the RV as the best place to put out the fire. 


It might be good practice for RVers to try climbing the roof ladder with the fire extinguisher in hand to be sure it can be done.  It's not that easy climbing the ladder with only one usable hand but it can be done with the proper technique.  I know I've climbed up on the roof enough times with a full bucket of water in one hand to know that I can do it, even with the new 10 lb fire extinguisher that I have now.   And when you get on the roof with the fire extinguisher, wait until you have an opening through the melted fridge vent to get at the fire before pulling the fire extinguisher trigger. 


Of course, installing an automatic fire extinguisher would be the best solution, but the cost of that is pretty much prohibitive for the average RVer.  Knowing the next best solution (manually putting out the fire with a fire extinguisher) surely is worthwhile to know for the rest of us.
Rolf Salhus
Currently at:  Our home in Apple Valley, MN

Mavarick

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2011, 07:25:54 PM »
I have been lucky in the fact that every time I needed an extinguisher it was to help someone else. The last time was a brake fire on a gasser who was only carrying one extinguisher. I also used two of mine and that was barely enough to put it out because of the heat generated.
I always carry 3, one by the passenger seat - one in a drawer by the stove - one in the bedroom. Our only door is on the front end of the coach and I don't want to wake up to a fire between me and the door. Everyone should try an old extinguisher just once to see how they work and also make sure your emergency windows operate like you think they should. Remember, it might be pitch black and smoky when you need them the most.
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catblaster

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2011, 07:42:33 PM »
I remember a safety meeting with the Corps of Engineers (corpse of engineers) where the speaker stated the fire extinguishers are usually beside the equipment they are supposed to protect. In our case it was portable welders. This is wrong, they should be placed away from the equipment because the last thing you want to do is run to the fire to get the extinguisher. Instead run away from the fire to the extinguisher then decide to go back to put out the fire. I had never before thought of it that way. I know it's not directly related but thought I would share.
Will and Jane
95 Winnebago Luxor

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2011, 08:10:27 PM »
It is clearly possible to put out an RV fire if you catch it early enough, but seldom does that happen. Usually by the time you notice smoke or flames, it is already well established and even a  fire truck is going to have a problem putting out the flames.
Gary
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Lady Fitzgerald

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2011, 09:38:21 PM »

I choose to differ with you, Gary.  We had a fridge fire that I put out completely with a small fire extinguisher.  Although I admit I was lucky because by the time I got on the roof of the MH, the fridge vent had already melted from the flames shooting through it.  This gave me an opening where I could aim the fire extinguisher directly at the flames shooting up and quickly put out the fire.  I believe that if I had started using the fire extinguisher before the vent had melted, I wouldn't have been able to put the fire out before emptying the fire extinguisher.


I think it's safe to say that most fridge fires start in the back of the fridge, and are fueled by the ammonia gas escaping and catching on fire.  There are only two ways to get at the fire:  from the outside of the RV through the fridge access door and from the roof of the RV through the fridge vent.  It would be very difficult to point a fire extinguisher up through the outside access door and put the fire out because the fire would be much higher than the access door and there are too many things blocking the passage to get enough of the fire retardant up near the fire to put it out.  That leaves the fridge vent on the roof of the RV as the best place to put out the fire. 


It might be good practice for RVers to try climbing the roof ladder with the fire extinguisher in hand to be sure it can be done.  It's not that easy climbing the ladder with only one usable hand but it can be done with the proper technique.  I know I've climbed up on the roof enough times with a full bucket of water in one hand to know that I can do it, even with the new 10 lb fire extinguisher that I have now.   And when you get on the roof with the fire extinguisher, wait until you have an opening through the melted fridge vent to get at the fire before pulling the fire extinguisher trigger. 


Of course, installing an automatic fire extinguisher would be the best solution, but the cost of that is pretty much prohibitive for the average RVer.  Knowing the next best solution (manually putting out the fire with a fire extinguisher) surely is worthwhile to know for the rest of us.

There is no way on Earth (or anywhere else) I'm crawling up on anything that is burning. Besides, once you got up there, you would have to waste time to knock off the vent cap (which will allow more draft for the fire, intensifying it), then try to spray the powder against a strong updraft. When using an extinguisher, the spray has to be directed at the base of the flame, something you would not be able to do from above, especially when bucking an updraft. You would be much better off to swing the extinguisher against the lower vent door to break it out, then spray up in the opening the best you can and pray the powder is carried to the flames. At least, if you fail to knock down the fire (which is likely), you will be on the ground and able to retreat.

You (and Gary) are correct an automatic system behind the refrigerator would be best. I've seen Halon systems for as little as $300 but even if one had to spend $500-600, that is a whole lot cheaper than replacing your rig. (since Halon works by displacing oxygen, I would not use in the living space.)
Jeannie

Between RVs (to put it mildly) but planning on buying a TT to full time in.

rsalhus

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Re: Refrigerator
« Reply #28 on: September 16, 2011, 11:34:13 PM »
Quote
There is no way on Earth (or anywhere else) I'm crawling up on anything that is burning. Besides, once you got up there, you would have to waste time to knock off the vent cap (which will allow more draft for the fire, intensifying it), then try to spray the powder against a strong updraft. When using an extinguisher, the spray has to be directed at the base of the flame, something you would not be able to do from above, especially when bucking an updraft. You would be much better off to swing the extinguisher against the lower vent door to break it out, then spray up in the opening the best you can and pray the powder is carried to the flames. At least, if you fail to knock down the fire (which is likely), you will be on the ground and able to retreat.



You won't have to wait long for the fridge vent cap to melt after the fridge fire starts.  I was outside when we heard the ammonia gas explode behind the fridge.  I went inside, smelled smoke, and then ran out and removed the fridge access door.  I couldn't see the fire there but when I looked on top of the motorhome, I saw smoke coming out of the vent.  I went inside, grabbed the fire extinguisher and was on the roof easily within a couple of minutes after the fire started.  While climbing up the ladder, I could see flames coming out of the fridge vent no more than 4-6 inches above where the fridge vent had melted.  It wasn't like a fueled fire, it was more of a wimpy fire, burning the ammonia gas, the insulation, and the insulated wires that ran behind the fridge.  Certainly not a big fire, and no updraft to buck.  One short shot of the fire extinguisher and the fire was basically out.  The flames stopped almost immediately but the white smoke from the flame retardant and the smoke combination made it look like it was a big fire.


The increased smoke coming out after the first shot of the fire extinguisher made me think that the fire was still going.  So I hit it again even harder with the fire extinguisher and after that I was pretty sure the fire was out.  I think I might have hit it again just for good measure, I can't remember, the neighbors were all gathering around and I was worried that one of them would call the fire department after the fire was out.


Good luck in trying to put the fire out through the outside fridge access door, I don't think it could be done, but then what do I know.  I had never used a fire extinguisher before and all I did with ours was point and shoot.  Pretty simple to operate actually, and darn effective.  And you don't need to break the fridge access door to get it off, I can pull mine off in two seconds maximum.  Just be sure you have an ABC rated fire extinguisher, not too big that you can't haul it on top of the RV when a fire breaks out.  I think mine was less than 3 1/2 lbs, but it was pretty much empty when I got done using it.



Rolf Salhus
Currently at:  Our home in Apple Valley, MN

 

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