Fire Extinguishers?

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Luv2RV

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What does an new RVer have to know about getting the right kind of fire extinguisher?  Is the one included by the factory sufficient?  What kinds of fires are most likely to occur in an RV?
 

Bob Zambenini

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If possible you should attend an FMCA National event where they have an outstanding workshop on this subject. Its a hands on with real fire and fire extinguishers usuallypresented by a guy named Mac.

The short answer to your question is no, the one fire extinguisher is not adequate in the least. After Mac's workshop I outfitted my 38 footer with three additional ones. One in hall closet, aft of range, one in bedroom which I can take with me as I bail out the emergency window and one which he calls a 'bus buster' in an outside compartment. This one iis handy and accessible as I would exit my door and head back to a fire in my engine compartment of my diesel pusher and my toad. Its a large heavy duty bottle that could knock down a big fire in either my engine area or my toad car.

And with 27 years of USAF flying, I also have a crash axe  immediately to my left drivers seat which I could use to escape in the event the door is jammed.

Some may have other ideas, but this is what I have done primarily based on Mac's workshop.

Bob
 

Ron

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I agree with Bob.  The fire extinquisher that comes with the RV is almost useless.  We have bought several better extinquishers and place in different areas of the coach including the propane bay and in the toad.  If the powers to be were really interested in safety they would outlaw the extinguishers that come with the coach.

 

Jim Dick

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Luv2RV said:
What does an new RVer have to know about getting the right kind of fire extinguisher?  Is the one included by the factory sufficient?  What kinds of fires are most likely to occur in an RV?

I whole heartedly agree with Bob's assessment of Mac's fire safety course. It will really open your eyes to what you need for extinquishers. The best is the foam type. After seeing Mac's demo twice we now have four extinquishers in the coach and two in the toad.

 

Steve CDN

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Jim,

After having attended Mac's presentation, I bought a foam typr fire extinguisher at about the same time you did the same.  Recently, though I've noticed foam type extinguishers are not as readily available in retail outlets as they once were.  Lowe's apparantly no longer carries them.

Those of us who attended the FMCA fire seminar, are convinced of their superiority in controlling the types of fires that are likely to occur in an RV such as 12 VDC, fuel hydraulic fluid or overheated tires.

The surfactant component smothers the air availability and the water component cools the burning substance without toxic residue.

What other sources for thos foam extinguishers are available other than at FMCA rallies?
 

Jim Dick

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Steve,

I noticed they don't seem to be carried by Lowe's also. The only other source I know would be Mac McCoy. I would think you might be able to find out from a local fire department. They obviously would want you to have the best protection on board. :)



 

John From Detroit

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Different types of fires like different types of extingushiers.  For example, a water based extinguisher is probbly not the best thing to use on high voltage electrical fires (Hi is about anything over 15 volts by the way, and many motorhomes have 110 volt (Well over 15) even when going down the road)

However they work fairly well on wood and paper

CO2 may seem to work well, And might be just the thing on an electrical fire (I don' tknow) But I don't think I want one

For gas/oil/grease fires NOTHING (that I've seen) ANd I mean NOTHING, beats Purple K  Though Foam may well do thie job

I've used a couple of dry powder extinguishers (Regular baking soda, IN fact one time, not having a "Real Extingushier" handy I grabbed a box of Baking soda out of a spice rack.  Kind of impressive on the fires I was using them on.

The problem is you need different bottles for different jobs... I'd say that for most jobs though a foam, a dry powder and a Purple K (May be optional, I've never seen dry powder other then Purple K used on gas fires) should do the job

I've also seen a Halon system (Fire supression system, not an extinguisher) go off,,, Most impressive, of course you don't want to be in a room where that  happens (a good 5 minutes of alarms before it fired) as... Well,, nothing can breath when those go off, That includes you if you are in the room... I entered that room, for about a minute, about a week AFTER the alarm was cleared and it still gave me distress, (I got out quickly)

 

Jim Dick

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John,

I don't know what purple K is but I did witness the demo by Mac on a gas/diesel fuel fire that was put out within about 15 seconds. Now this fire had been going for several minutes and the plywood backdrop was completely ablaze. After he put out the fire he tried to reignite the remaining mixture with a blow torch. It would not ignite!!! It seems the foam causes a chemical reaction with the fuel and virtually turns it into water!

He also had a flare ignited and put it out with the foam. He could immediately grab the end of the flare and it was cool to the touch. I do not pretend to understand the chemistry involved but I do know the foam is unbelievable. It really does eliminate the need for more than one type of extinquisher.


 

Karl

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Working as part of the safety team at Road America, we attend fire schools from time to time, and practice putting out fires in cars. This includes gasoline, lubricants, fabric and electrical. By far, foam is the best all-around agent as it lowers the temperature below the combustion point quickly and at the same time eliminates the oxygen needed for combustion. We now use an additive to plain old water that makes it highly useful on gasoline too, and can be used in 3-5 gallon stream extinguishers like we used to see in school when we were kids, only now they are stainless steel. You can refill them yourself and pressurize them with a tire chuck. Of course we still have huge CO2 bottles mounted on the trucks. In the Air Force, we used an agent called CBM; chlorobromomethane, that would put out a raging jet fuel fire in the blink of an eye, but it was for open spaces only as the gas evolved was highly toxic. I'll be at the track today and get specifics on that additive for water. One exception is a magnesium fire, which requires a special powder to smother the burning metal. If you spray a magnesium fire with water, it literally explodes! - not good. 
 

Jim Dick

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kkolbus said:
Working as part of the safety team at Road America, we attend fire schools from time to time, and practice putting out fires in cars. This includes gasoline, lubricants, fabric and electrical. By far, foam is the best all-around agent as it lowers the temperature below the combustion point quickly and at the same time eliminates the oxygen needed for combustion. We now use an additive to plain old water that makes it highly useful on gasoline too, and can be used in 3-5 gallon stream extinguishers like we used to see in school when we were kids, only now they are stainless steel. You can refill them yourself and pressurize them with a tire chuck. Of course we still have huge CO2 bottles mounted on the trucks. In the Air Force, we used an agent called CBM; chlorobromomethane, that would put out a raging jet fuel fire in the blink of an eye, but it was for open spaces only as the gas evolved was highly toxic. I'll be at the track today and get specifics on that additive for water. One exception is a magnesium fire, which requires a special powder to smother the burning metal. If you spray a magnesium fire with water, it literally explodes! - not good. 

Karl,

I think the British found out about the Magnesium problem in Argentina.

 

CDKrahl

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Good question.  There are four (4) classes of fire.  A different type of extinguisher for each class.

Class A  ordinary combustables (cloth, paper)      Pressurized water, CO2, ABC
Class B  flammable liquids            Aquas Film forming Foam, (AFFF), ABC Dry Chemical
Class C  energized electrical        ABC Dry Chemical, (it is a powder, and it makes a real mess) or CO2
Class D  flammable metals            Metal X or Purple K  (it is also a powder)

You will end up spending a sizable amount of money for a good extinguisher, so don't be shocked.

If you look in your local telephone directory, yellow pages under fire extinguishers, you'll find companies that sell and recharge extinguishers of all types.  If you tell them what you would like to protect in your MH, I'm sure they can help you out. CAUTION, stay away from the extinguishers with plastic heads.  They lose pressure, and usually cannot be recharged, because when they try to recharge them, the plastic may crack, causing them to leak air pressure.  By the way, if you have a propane fire, try to shut off the tank valve, the fire will go out.  If unable to shut the tank valve, head for the hills, and call 911.  Don't fight it, too much fire for your small extinguisher.

Sorry for the late posting, just ran across it, and thought I might throw in my 2 cents. 

From a career firefighter, retired.




 

John From Detroit

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Jim Dick said:
John,

I don't know what purple K is but I did witness the demo by Mac on a gas/diesel fuel fire that was put out within about 15 seconds. Now this fire had been going for several minutes and the plywood backdrop was completely ablaze. After he put out the fire he tried to reignite the remaining mixture with a blow torch. It would not ignite!!! It seems the foam causes a chemical reaction with the fuel and virtually turns it into water!

He also had a flare ignited and put it out with the foam. He could immediately grab the end of the flare and it was cool to the touch. I do not pretend to understand the chemistry involved but I do know the foam is unbelievable. It really does eliminate the need for more than one type of extinquisher.

Jim, I don't recall seeing this message  before (though i suspect I did) Since you posted it I've seen the same demonstration and now have 3 small foam extinguishers (What he uses during most of the demonstration) (About the same size as a bicycle water bottle or a bit smaller than the standard dry powder job)  I also have the standard powder and a 20 pounder (powder)

I have to admit, those Allfire-foam jobs are seriously impressive,  Though a lot of his demonstration is showmanship (Which serves to make it interesting without loosing any accuracy)

I've seen foam used by professionals before,  I put one in the Gally, one in the bedroom and one in the towed.

I would much rather shoot foam and now I can.  There have been a few cases where I could have used one of those bottles.. Thankfully said uses would have been on behalf of someone else.  But still they would have been handy.
 

Jim Dick

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Hi John,

Just got back on line after having the laptop repaired. Foam is certainly very impressive. I'm sure a lot of what Mac does is showmanship but it doesn't take away from the fact that foam is far surperior to any other extiqusher out there. I have four in the coach and one in the toad.
 

Karl

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John,
I don't know what purple K is
Pruple K is dry chemical but is better suited to higher hazard combustible fuels and live electrical equipment. Metal X is also a dry chemical but is specifically for burning metals like magnesium. It differs from other dry chem. extinguishers in that it doesn't spray out of the hose end, but dribbles out in a stream. You start at the edge of the fire and pile the stuff on, working your way to the center, to smother the fire by removing the oxidizer (air). Once completely covered, you leave it alone for as long as possible to cool down or it could re-ignite. 
 

John From Detroit

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By the way... I have a Purple K story to tell.. The reason it's called Purple K is that, well, it's Purple (I have no clue as to the "K")

While I was working for the State Police the armory at the post, a rather large post (A Large enough that the with was a full city block, the depth was about half that) was directly across from the dispatch center (Radio room) (This turned out to be a good thing) the radio room had it's own dedicated HEVAC unit (Also a good thing) which it shared with the front desk.  All three rooms had doors off a common hall.  Well it was gun cleaning day.  Now Nitro-solvent is nasty stuff (Gun cleaning solution) so the trooper propped the door open with one of the department's spare Purple K extinguishers that had been used out on the road (We have spares so when one gets used it's put in the armory along one wall and a fresh one is taken from the other wall, When the refill guy arrives he refills and recharges and re-pins and puts it on the "FULL" wall) Well, the trooper used this used extinguisher to hold the door open.

Now, remember, it was used.. This means... NO PIN  (The safety pin had been pulled)

He is working away and bumps into the door.  the extinguisher fell over.. Onto the handle and save for the front desk and the radio room the post had a brand new color scheme... .PURPLE  All over PURPLE  all the halls were PURPLE every open office was PURPLE, I mean it was one PURPLE mess.  Poor trooper had to clean it all up too.

I will say this.... Better him than me (Even if I do have better cleaning tools)
 
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