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If you’re a tried and true camper, there’s no doubt you follow the creed of “safety first”. This applies to any of you RVers out there planning a trip and wondering whether or not you should bring a fire extinguisher along on the journey. Even if it’s just a weekend trip, bringing a fire extinguisher with you is a must!
For your peace of mind and the safety of yourself and other campers, having a properly charged, rated, and easily accessible fire extinguisher is necessary should you be planning to take your rig out of storage.
But what type of fire extinguisher is best for your RV, and how can you best prevent and prepare for the possibility of a fire?
We’ve got reviews of our 6 favorite options along with everything you need to know about finding the perfect fire extinguisher for your RV. If you want to skip ahead and see which ones made the list you can check them out here:
- Best Overall: FIRST ALERT Fire Extinguisher
- Best on a Budget: FIRST ALERT Fire Extinguisher
- Most Compact: First Alert EZ Fire Spray
- Best Rechargeable Option: Amerex B417
- Best Multi-Class Extinguisher: Kidde 21005779 Pro 210 Fire Extinguisher
- Best Clean Chemical Extinguisher: Amerex B385TS Fire Extinguisher
Fire Prevention in Your RV
When I bought my vintage travel trailer, it was the definition of unsafe. Whether it was because it was built in the 70s or just neglected over the years, my rig was not up for full-time living right away. I had to add in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, propane leak detection, and, you guessed it, a fire extinguisher.
But this isn’t the end to an RV safety checklist, especially if your RV isn’t brand new off the lot. If you’re concerned about your safety in your new rig, especially when it comes to fires, this was my own personal safety checklist that I used when remodeling my vintage trailer! Again, this doesn’t cover everything and if you want to take a bigger perspective on safety you’ll want to look at things like locks and other security measures as well.
Inspect any wiring that you have access to. Should any of it be fraying or aged, seek repairs before taking your rig out for camping. Electrical tape is a great temporary fix, but only from your home on the way to the RV or electrical repair shop! Electrical malfunctions are a huge cause of fires in RVs, especially as they get more advanced technology inside of them.
Have your propane system regularly inspected by a professional. A faulty propane regulator or a leak in a propane line can be a serious concern and should be addressed before you hit the road. You may or may not notice the smell of propane, so having this dangerous fuel line inspected well in advance is a good idea.
Keep Your Detectors Up to Date
Installing smoke and carbon dioxide detectors is step one. Maintaining an RV is an annual affair, as there’s plenty of maintenance to perform no matter the season. Your detectors should fall under annual maintenance; test them, check the batteries, ensure they are still working, especially before your next big trip.
Educate Your Travel Companions
Make sure everyone in your family knows how to operate a fire extinguisher. Unless you are traveling with young children, you should not be the only one who knows how to use this necessary piece of equipment! We’ll go over this more in depth later.
Keep it Clean
Having a tidy campsite is key. Cleaning up any potential fuel spills as well as keeping things organized around the exterior of your rig is a great habit to get into, especially if an emergency occurs. Keeping firewood a safe distance away from your RV is smart, as well as any outdoor grills or other flammable things.
Extension Cord Dos and Don’ts
Using an extension cord? If you only have a 30 AMP rig (like me), chances are you’ll need one for utilizing any large appliances. Make sure you have a properly rated extension cord as well as knowing the best practices for its use. For example, two extension cords shouldn’t be plugged into each other. Overloading your RV’s electrical system is just asking for trouble!
How Many Extinguishers?
If you own a big rig, you should own more than one fire extinguisher. My 19-foot travel trailer is essentially a one-room affair, so I don’t have to worry about more than one inside. Most RV professionals recommend having a fire extinguisher in your rig’s bedroom, kitchen, and in an easily accessible and labelled location outside. I also have an extinguisher outside of my little home, just in case any campfires get out of hand!
If you’re doing a lot of grilling or other cooking outside your RV, you’ll want to make sure you have an easy-to-access extinguisher near your grill as well!
Fire Season is Real
Know when your fire seasons are. Living in Oregon, we’ve had a devastating few years of wildfires, many of which could have been prevented with just a little bit of fire safety and education. If you are choosing to camp during fire season or during a time of dryness and high winds, it is your responsibility to practice safety, and perhaps even more safety than you would have originally considered. During extreme fire seasons, many campgrounds don’t allow campfires, and for good reason. If you believe it will not be safe to have a campfire, don’t. Always completely extinguish your cigarettes before disposal, and never leave a fire unattended, no matter how safe you think it will be.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
Did you know that not all fire extinguishers are created equally? If you’re just hearing this for the first time, don’t worry; I had no idea either! There are different classes of fire extinguishers, and some can be more than one class for your convenience. Here are the different types of fire extinguishers and if they are recommended for use in your RV.
This is going to be your most basic type of fire extinguisher. This type is only recommended for putting out basic fires started from wood or paper, easily combustible materials. Most of these fire extinguishers involve straight up water or a basic type of powder to cover the fire. This type of fire extinguisher may not be the best choice while camping, since it can’t put out any extreme fires . You may also consider it not worth the cost given that water and dirt are usually easily accessible while camping, and using these free resources to put out a basic campfire seems a lot smarter to me!
If you’re looking for a fire extinguisher that can put out an oil or fuel fire, check out a class B extinguisher. These can put out gasoline and oil-based fires, but not cooking oil fires. This class of extinguisher can be useful to keep in your tow vehicle. This class is often combined with class C extinguishers!
A great class of extinguisher to have inside of your rig, a class C fire extinguisher is made to handle electrical fires. This particular extinguisher is full of an electrical fire suppressant, designed to halt the conduction of electricity, wherever the fire may be occuring along an electrical system.
Class D is the most complicated form of fire extinguisher, meant for extinguishing combustible metals. This may be a bit more science class than is necessary for your RV, as it is primarily meant to put out fires started by sodium, magnesium, and titanium.
I’ve got a Class K fire extinguisher in my rig because I’m a cook. You can remember what Class K extinguishers are meant to extinguish by remembering the name: K can stand for kitchen! These extinguishers release a foamy substance that suppresses any kitchen grease, oil, or fat-based fires. These extinguishers are extremely handy, as grease fires can happen quickly and your instinct will most likely be to use water on them.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Fire safety is an important tool that we should all be taught, even at a young age. Knowing how to operate the fire extinguisher available to you inside of your rig should matter to you. It’s one thing to have the safety device; it’s another thing altogether to learn how to use it.
Every fire extinguisher should come with instructions on the device itself, or in an accompanying manual. Thankfully, using a fire extinguisher is usually fairly simple to understand, and there’s a handy acronym to go along with it: P.A.S.S.!
The P Stands For: Pull
All fire extinguishers come with a pin or other safety mechanism that must be pulled out before the device will depressurize and operate efficiently. Should you choose to practice with your fire extinguisher, don’t pull the pin until there is a fire present, as it will affect the pressure inside the canister.
The A Stands For: Aim
Fire extinguishers will always have a nozzle or even a hose used to aim your substance. Most fire safety professionals recommend aiming your fire extinguisher at the base of a fire, and also recommend standing a safe distance away. This distance will vary depending on the extinguisher you own, and you should always use your best judgement for safety distance away from flames.
The First S Stands For: Squeeze
There should be an activating lever attached to your extinguisher, usually near where your safety pin is. Squeeze this lever to activate the fire extinguisher, but of course make sure you’re aiming first! You are able to squeeze the lever safely should you want to practice with your extinguisher, so long as the pin is still in place.
The Final S Stands For: Sweep
Finally, aiming for the base of the fire, sweep the nozzle from side to side, addressing the scope of the fire. You are welcome to move closer or further away as the fire shifts; make sure to keep an eye on places you have already extinguished. Flare ups are incredibly common with fires, and don’t assume a fire is out until it is good and out!
What Else Should I Consider?
Once you know how many extinguishers you need and what class you should be keeping an eye out for, is there anything more to consider? There’s a couple more useful tips I have in my back pocket, because I’m all about safety first!
How big of an extinguisher do I need?
This is a tricky question to answer, especially since the more fuel you have, the more space it takes up. And we all know how important having space in your rig is!
While shopping for extinguishers, there will often be a number listed before the class type. This number usually correlates to the amount of water it might take to put the fire out, or alternatively the square footage of the fire. If your extinguisher says “10B”, it can put out a fire that’s roughly 10 square feet in size.
Of course you can’t predict how big a fire will be (and hopefully it won’t get very big at all!), but if you can fit a slightly larger fire extinguisher inside of your rig, I definitely recommend it.
Will these chemicals damage my RV?
While fires will cause some sort of damage to your rig no matter what, it’s a shame if a fire extinguisher further damages your RV. There are some types of fire extinguishers that don’t cause further damage to your rig, especially your rig’s delicate electrical systems.
I would personally avoid dry-chemical based extinguishers, as these are guaranteed to leave behind a big mess, as well as harmful inhalants. There are extinguishers labelled as “clean”, and these use clean gases to extinguish fires. These are less likely to damage your finishings or electrical system within your RV.
What’s the difference between rechargeable extinguishers and other options?
You may begin shopping and find that you can’t decide between a single use extinguisher and a rechargeable one. A rechargeable fire extinguisher is essentially a refillable one, and this may be a valuable option for those of you not planning to replace your fire extinguisher often. Single use extinguishers are useful but must be disposed of if they are used.
The main deciding factor between these two options is the price. Rechargeable extinguishers are usually more expensive, and no matter what, both options need to be used within 10 years. However, rechargeable options can be refilled if the fuel gets too old, but there is often an additional fee incurred at the time of refilling.
Where should I store these fire extinguishers?
There’s no point in owning a fire extinguisher if you can’t easily reach it and use it in case of emergency. So try to store your fire extinguishers in easy to reach places, including wall-mounted areas. Some fire extinguishers may come with wall-mounted holders, some may not. No matter what, avoid storing these devices at the back of a closet or cupboard. Time is always of the essence with fires!
What if I can’t control the fire?
Given an RV’s delicately balanced propane, battery, and electric systems, if you can’t put out a fire quickly or safely, you need to leave immediately. RVs can and will explode given the volatility of propane, and if your fire started in an unsafe location, I would suggest abandoning ship.
Keeping a bag packed with your important items, near the door, is what most people do during fire related emergencies. Being able to get out quickly and safely is key to fire safety!
The Best Fire Extinguishers for Your RV
If you’re feeling confident about your fire extinguisher needs, it’s time to check out some of the best possible fits for your rig! Keep in mind the types of fires that you are most likely to be putting out, and how much fuel you might need. Let’s shop!
Best Overall: FIRST ALERT REC5 Fire Extinguisher
- Rechargeable REC5 Recreational Fire Extinguisher is UL rated 5-B: C and has a durable metal head, and is ideal for use in your RV
- Designed to fight flammable-liquid and electrical fires; Uses sodium bicarbonate extinguishing agent
- Bracket and strap are included for secure placement of extinguisher, designed to meet the demanding needs of travel.
- Clear and waterproof instructions
- Included bracket
- Dry powder will need cleaning up
- May be larger than you expect
Want the best of the best, at an affordable price? This fire extinguisher from First Alert might be right for you! This rechargeable REC5 Recreational Fire Extinguisher is UL rated 5-B:C and has a durable metal head so that you can aim appropriately.
This particular fire extinguisher is designed to fight flammable liquid and electrical fires, great for many common types of RV fires. It uses a sodium bicarbonate extinguishing agent, which is nontoxic, but dry, so keep this in mind that clean up will be necessary.
A bracket and strap are included for secure placement of your new extinguisher, designed to meet the demanding needs of RV travel. The metal pull pin with safety seal is meant to help prevent accidental discharge and discourage tampering. It also has a corrosion-resistant, easy-to-read, color-coded metal gauge and a waterproof label with simple instructions!
You can check out more reviews along with the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best on a Budget: FIRST ALERT KITCHEN5 Fire Extinguisher
- Perfect size for kitchens and RVs
- Mounting hardware included
- Will leave a residue
- May not be able to tackle bigger fires
I would argue that most preventable RV fires happen in the kitchen, just due to classic human error. This kitchen fire extinguisher, also from First Alert, is UL rated 5 B:C, has a durable metal head, and is compact enough to fit in a cabinet or in the included attractive mounting bracket!
Designed to fight flammable liquid as well as electrical fires, this extinguisher uses a sodium bicarbonate extinguishing agent. While this may not be the best in terms of the lifetime of your RV’s electrical system, it will put out whatever fire is burning! With a metal pull pin and included safety seal, this will help prevent accidental discharge, which could matter if it is being kept in an active kitchen cabinet.
This extinguisher also has a push button pressure check and a waterproof label with simple instructions, just like its First Alert cousin on this list. Plus this kitchen extinguisher comes with a 10 year limited warranty, and First Alert has been the most trusted brand in home safety since launching the first residential smoke alarm in 1958!
You learn more and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Most Compact: First Alert EZ Fire Spray
- The First Alert EZ Fire Spray Portable Fire Extinguisher discharges 4 times longer than a traditional fire extinguisher, providing 32 seconds of...
- Light aerosol can is easy to hold, carry, and use; ideal for kitchen, garage, boat, RV, dorm, and more
- Extinguishes paper, fabric, wood, grease, and electrical fires
- Can fit in any cupboard
- Easy to operate
- Relatively inexpensive
- Works on many fires
- Can may not hold enough to put out larger fires
Are you looking for an even easier to operate extinguisher that is also compact? The First Alert EZ Fire Spray Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray is easier to use than traditional fire extinguishers and discharges 4 times longer than regular extinguishers, making it ideal for fighting common household fires and providing 32 seconds of discharge to ensure the fire is out!
The nozzle sprays a wide area, giving you greater control to put out a fire faster. Just point and spray the Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray on household fires consisting of paper, fabric, wood, cooking oils, electrical appliances, or equipment. This is enough to cover your bases in terms of common RV fires, and you can purchase this compact can in multiple packs, perfect for distributing around your rig.
The portable extinguisher spray is ideal for the kitchen, boats, RVs, and travel, and the biodegradable, nontoxic-foam, fire-extinguishing formula wipes away with a damp cloth for easy cleanup. What could be better than that?! Keep in mind that this should be kept away from children; since it is so easy to use, there are no safety pins traditionally found on fire extinguishers! Read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Rechargeable Option: Amerex B417
- ABC Dry Chemical, Class A:B:C Extinguisher
- For use on Class A (ordinary combustibles), Class B (Flammable liquid) spills or Fires involving live electrical equipment (Class C)
- 10 sec. discharge time
- Great for many types of fires
- Sturdy and recommended by professionals
- May be large for your rig
This Amerex Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher can handle an awful lot, and is rechargeable for your convenience. It’s ideal for use on ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids and gases and energized electrical equipment, which means that most RV fires will be put out by this.
This extinguisher also features all metal valves and includes wall mounting brackets. It’s fairly straightforward, and looks just like most fire extinguishers you see in homes and businesses. And this means that it works just as well as common fire-grade extinguishers, recommended in reviews by many professional firefighters!
While this rechargeable option may leave a dry residue, it should be fairly easy to clean up. It may also feel like a bit more than you need, and for this reason the size may not be ideal for your rig. However, it’s a great, long-lasting rechargeable option, perfect for RV and other home uses!
Learn more along with checking out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Multi-Class Extinguisher: Kidde 21005779 Pro 210 Fire Extinguisher
- Can handle many types of fires
- Large capacity
- Corrosion resistant
- Will leave a dry residue
- May be bigger than you expect
If the last extinguisher still didn’t seem like enough for you, check out this professional extinguisher by Kidde. Suitable for use on Class A (trash, wood & paper), Class B (liquids & gases) and Class C fires (energized electrical equipment), this fire extinguisher can definitely handle the worst of your RV fire worries.
The PRO 210 is fitted with a pressure gauge that provides at-a-glance status, and is manufactured from a lightweight aluminum cylinder with a tough aluminum valve assembly. This guy is rated 2-A:10-B:C, and is fully rechargeable, which means it’s good to go for years to come. It utilizes a multipurpose dry chemical, which may mean some clean up, but it’s worth it for peace of mind.
Some other handy perks with this extinguisher are that the pressure gauge allows for immediate pressure status check. It’s also made of a powder coated aluminum cylinder for corrosion protection. Plus, it includes a wall hanger, perfect for installing in your rig. While it may be bigger than you expect, this extinguisher is great to have on hand.
Learn more and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Clean Chemical Extinguisher: Amerex B385TS Fire Extinguisher
- Halotron I, Class B:C Extinguisher
- For use on Class B (Flammable liquid) spills or Fires involving live electrical equipment (Class C)
- 9 sec. discharge time
- Clean agent protects electronics
- Large capacity
- Rugged and sturdy construction
- May be too much extinguisher if you have a small rig
If you’re looking for top of the line, this Amerex extinguisher is well-worth the cost. Utilizing Halotron I, a clean fire extinguishing agent, this extinguisher discharges a rapidly evaporating liquid, which is non-conductive, non-corrosive, and leaves behind no residue.
Halotron I is the clean agent market leader with a history of successful real-world protection of valuable assets. It has been determined to be the most environmentally beneficial halocarbon agent on the market today that meets wide performance standards. The primary raw material in the agent is HCFC-123, which has an outstanding profile of near-zero ozone depleting potential and a low global warming potential.
If you are truly worried about damaging your rig’s delicate electronic systems should a fire break out, this is the extinguisher for you. It has been tested in high-tech data centers, so it should be able to handle your rig’s fires with ease. It’s designed for Class B fires such as gasoline, oils, paint lacquer and tar or Class C fires involving live electrical equipment, which should mean you’re covered- for a cost!
Learn more and check out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Fires are no joke, and your safety should be a priority. Buying a fire extinguisher (or two or three) is a great idea should your rig not already have one. Hopefully this article will help you find the right one for you so that you can enjoy camping with a bit more peace of mind!