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Old 04-26-2007, 05:14 AM   #1
Glenn and Lorraine
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Fire Extinguishers......

From years of being a volunteer fire fighter I developed certain safety habits when it came to fire safety. Two things you'll find in everyone's rig are Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers. But just having them is one thing, having them work is another.

#1- Test your Smoke Detector monthly and replace the batteries yearly. I replace the batteries the first of every year. I am sure many of you have a particular date when you replace your batteries.

But , When was the last time you even looked at your Fire Extinguisher(s) much less inspected it.
In every rig that Montana builds one piece of Standard Equipment is a fire extinguisher. Usually a 2 1/2 pound Class B/C, Dry Chemical. Not the best choice in my opinion. The Class "B" rating is for extinguishing Flammable Liquid type fires such as propane, gasoline or diesel fuel. The Class "C" rating is for Electrical fires.
The Chemical is actually a very dry powder type of substance which is basically backing soda AND in order for the extinguisher to work properly this powder must be kept loosely packed and not firmly packed.
In a stick house the extinguisher hangs on a wall for years at a time allowing this powder to settle and become firmly packed. Than when we need it most we pull the trigger and little or nothing comes out of the nozzle. Each year these extinguishers should be removed from the wall, inverted and struck on the bottom with the heel of your hand or a rubber mallet to loosen the powder and than shake the extinguisher for about a minute to break up any clumps. At the same time you check the condition of the charge. Read the label it will tell you how to check for the condition. In my case there is a little green indicator button sticking out of the handle, press that green button in and if it the button does not spring back replace the extinguisher. Some have a gauge with a needle indicating the state of charge. Normally if the needle is in the green it is OK. If it goes into the red than replace it. I say replace it as it would cost more to have the extinguisher serviced than a new one would cost.
NOW in our 5ers or TTs or even your tow vehicles the extinguisher should be inspected even more frequently. As we drag our rig down the hi-way the vibrations actually causes the powder to settle and become even more tightly packed. You would therefore want to check your extinguishers before and after every trip. Add it to the "Things to do at set-up" or "Arriving home" list.

One more thing...
As I said these extinguishers that they put in our rigs are for Class B/C rated fires. They are not for Class "A" (NO not motor homes) Normal Combustible type fires such as paper, wood, trash, cloth, etc. For example, a trash can fire in your kitchen is usually a Class A type fire whereas the grease burning in the frying pan would be a class B.
Therefore, I would also suggest carrying at least a 2 1/2#pound or 5 pound ABC Extinguisher along with the 2 1/2 pound you received with the rig. The ABC rated works on all 3 type fires. In fact, a couple of ABC's would not hurt. 1 in the trailer and one in the TV.
And another thing, A Class C electrical fire is only a Class C electrical fire until the electricity is cut off. If when the electricity is cut off and there is still flame it is now a Class A Combustible or Class B Flammable Liquid fire.

NOW when the time comes to replace that 2 1/2 pounder that came with the rig I would either get a 2 # or another 5# ABC.

AND...Just because you have a fire extinguisher in your hand does not necessarily make you a firefighter. Know your limitations as well as the limitations of your fire extinguisher, not just the different classes. Just how much fire can the extinguisher you have in hand put out. To learn a bit more on the subject stop at your local fire station and ask questions. I was a volunteer firefighter for over 25 years and we always encouraged the citizens to stop in and ask questions.
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Old 04-26-2007, 05:35 AM   #2
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Thanks Glenn, that is very valuable information, something we should all be reminded of from time to time. Especially someone as forgetfull as myself.
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Old 04-26-2007, 06:28 AM   #3
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thanks Glenn, That is really good information, and something we all need to be aware of, even if its helping someone else on the road. We carry the ABC also and got ours at sams club a few yrs back, i think the cost was reasonable, something like $35.00 or less. And like you said, have it CHECKED ! One that doesnt work not much used. thanks again Glenn
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Old 04-26-2007, 06:58 AM   #4
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Excellent post Glenn, being a Fire Inspector out here in Wa. State I've aquired quite a few stories involving everything from investigation house fires and finding detectors disconnected to extinguishers not working when the time comes due to age and lack of attention. If I were to add anything to your outstanding post it would be this; when one goes out to purchase an ABC extinguisher spend the extra $ and get one with a metal head assembly rather than plastic one. The cheaper ones tend to lose pressure thus making it "Out-of-Service", at that point you might as well throw it away. Most, if not all, extinguisher shops will not reservice them due to safety issues. Always good to not only have one extinguisher inside the RV but to have one outside also. Worst feeling in the would is to have a fire inside the RV between you and the extinguisher.
Here at Fort Lewis I make the rounds at least once a week out to our RV camp looking for anything fire related as well as checking out the Newer Rigs and trading stories & idea's. During those inspections I'll ask campers if their extinguishers are Ok and if not will take them in for reservicing, at no cost, only if the head assembly is not plastic. Again great Post.

John K.
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:55 AM   #5
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Thanks Glenn for your advice. The fire extinguisher is some thing I continue to forget about checking. I think I will add it to my check off list right now. Thanks again...
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Old 04-26-2007, 10:13 AM   #6
Montana Sky
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Great info Glenn! I will be picking up a few extra fire extinguishers to keep in the coach as well as the boat. Thanks again...
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:01 PM   #7
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I don't know anything about them, was in Costco and they had a two-pak will look to see if they are ABC and have a metal head.

Thanks for the great information, I keep forgetting

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Old 04-26-2007, 02:14 PM   #8
Glenn and Lorraine
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Koerb is 100% correct on the metal head issue and simonsrf those 2 packs at Costco, Sam's, BJ's, Wal*Mart, Kmart and Target are the plastic heads. Typically the brand name is Kidde. They will serve in a pinch but in the long run spend the extra bucks. I know of 2 good brands with metal heads. They are Amerex and the Ansul Sentry. There are others but those 2 came to mind as they were brands I once sold. Check your phone book under Fire Extinguishers for dealers who not only sell the better brands but service them as well. NONE of the stores mentioned above service fire extinguishers.
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:24 PM   #9
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Ok, won't look at the ones at Costco.

Glenn, thanks for helping me from wasting my time.

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Old 04-26-2007, 03:39 PM   #10
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Just a thought. I guess the ABC types are CO2? I think the dry powder ones are extremely messy when deployed.
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:32 PM   #11
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Thanks for the reminder Glenn. I try to shake, rattle and roll on a monthly basis, but somehow forget!! It is important that it works properly when you need it.
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Old 04-27-2007, 03:35 PM   #12
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Great subject to post! I have only 12 years in the fire service, but you can bet that after seeing the human and material aftermaths of fires of all sorts I am very fire safety conscious.
Getting burned (or burned to death ) is one of the most painful injuries (or ways to die) I can imagine.
It's not a pleasant thing to think about but the consequences of not regularly thinking about it are more unpleasant.
Thanks again for posting about this.
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