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Fire Safety for the RV

Fire Safety for the RV

Fire Safety for the RV

One of the worst things about RVing is the dreaded fire. This can ruin anyone’s day.

When a fire occurs in an RV you must decide to “Fight or Flight”, there is no room for indecision. An RV fire will double in size every twenty seconds. When considering the size of an RV you will not have very much time to decide what to do.

Therefore, you must have a plan of action before a fire occurs. What would you do at 3:10am if the smoke alarm starts going off. It will wake you from a deep sleep and the decision must be acted on quickly. Do you have a plan? Where are the exit doors or the emergency window exits? Have you attempted to open the emergency windows? Do they work? Do they slide open or do they hinge at the top? Do you have to pull the tabs on the windows to rip out the wire holding the window in place? All these questions need to be thought through before a fire occurs.

The “Go Bag”

Go Bag

If you do not have a “Go Bag” consider making one in case of an emergency. At a minimum the bag should have money, copies of important papers, medicine for a few days, emergency telephone numbers, a credit card, extra keys to the vehicle(s), and anything else you may need.

Fighting the Fire

Fire Extinguishers

If you decide to fight the fire, do you have the correct fire extinguisher? 

The typical RV fire extinguisher is a dry powder extinguisher. When used it provides a big white cloud that should extinguish the fire. The problem with this type of extinguisher is that it requires maintenance. Because the RV is rocking, rolling and shaking as it goes down the road, the powder will pack down in the container. 

Once a month it should be turned upside down and beat on the bottom of the extinguisher to loosen up the powder. Otherwise it will not work. In addition to it not working properly, the powder is corrosive to electrical systems, hard to clean up and can be toxic to humans and fur babies.

The correct fire extinguisher

Fire Safety for the RV 1

It is strongly suggested that you replace your dry fire extinguisher with a foam fire extinguisher.

This type of extinguisher is the best for RVers. 

It does not require maintenance. The foam will act as a cooling agent to extinguish the fire. 

Depending upon the type of RV you may need a maximum of 5 fire extinguishers.
The locations are 1) bedroom, 2) kitchen, 3) front door, 4) outside bay and 5) in the towed or towing vehicle.

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The emergency exits

If you must escape an RV fire you need to have an idea of where the emergency exits are for your RV. 

On a big Class A RV, the emergency exit window is high off the ground. If staying at an RV Park, consider pulling the picnic table over to the window. This will shorten the drop out of the RV. 

You need to decide who will exit first. Does weak go out first and then assist strong or does strong go out first to help weak? The exit window will have sharp edges as you exit so use a bed spread to go over the edge of the window. Also, the exit window may have the hinge on the top, so you might use a dowel rod to help hold up the window to escape. 

The window seal maybe melted to the window, so this is why it is necessary to exercise the window and use Aerospace 303 to condition the rubber seal so that the window will open when needed.

It is hoped that in all your RV travels you never have a fire incident. But to be on the side of caution have a plan on what to do in case there is an emergency.

Jim Koca


Jim Koca

Jim is the Education Director for Escapees RV Club. He is a retired law enforcement officer with over 42 years of service and specialized in accident reconstruction. This dealt with weight and tires issues of vehicles involved in collisions. Jim and his wife Lisa are fulltime RVers and work out of their RV.

They travel the country and instruct RVers Boot Camp for Escapees RV Club. In addition Jim is the administrator for RVers On-Line University, developing courses for the program.

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Fire Safety for the RV 2

6 Responses

  1. Hi Jim, do have any advice or insight into automated fire suppression systems for the engine compartment, refer… so on?

    1. Hi Gary,
      I am a firefighter of 44 years and a new RV owner as well. I have done some preliminary research on fire suppression systems for engine compartment fires. I will attach a website for you that might assist in your research. Additionally, I have replaced all my dry chemical fire extinguishers in my coach and tow vehicle with halatron extinguishers. This is a colorless, odorless gas that breaks the chemical composition of fire and suppresses it immediately without a dry chemical. Hope this helps.


  2. On my Class A I have added a fold down step below the rear escape window, as well as white assist handles on both sides to make it much easier to exit the coach, with a wooden prop dowel in the wardrobe next to the window. We have even practiced exiting the coach this way twice to be sure of our movements in a hurry.

  3. Thank you for a very informative article. I take fire safety seriously and I didn’t know much of the details provided here. I immediately began shopping for a foam extinguisher. However, it is not clear whether all white extinguishers, even those designated for RV use, use foam. How can one be sure you are purchasing a FOAM extinguisher? Are the rating code and white colored bottle enough?

  4. I attended the fire safety seminar at the Spirit of The Road Rally. Jim mentioned a particular foam extinguisher that not only puts out the fire, but prevents re-ignition . What is the name of that extinguisher. There are several foam one on the market, but I want to get the most effective

    1. Hi Bob!
      Jim typically recommends one of the three following brands- Fire Fighters Inc., Fireade, or Fire Gone. They use a technology that isolates the carbon molecule and puts out the fire.

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