Best RV Fire Extinguisher & Smoke Detectors + Guide to Fire Safety

RV on fire completely burning
This fire occurred in Dillsburg, PA in 2014. Reported on by the Sentinel.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are about 20,000 RV fires every year.

Let’s change that.

DISCLAIMER: This is a general guide. In practice, every situation is different. RV SUPPLY Co in no way implies or states any responsibly whatsoever of any consequence or cause of any fire or fire-related event whatsoever.

What We Discuss

Welcome to our RV guide to fire safety! We’ll start with the best fire extinguisher and smoke detector (and explain how many you need).

Then I’ll take a look at some general best practices for minimizing risk and potential hazards.

Best Fire Extinguisher For RVs

Seven different size fire extinguishers lined up next to each other

First things first: your RV probably came with an extinguisher. The thing is, it’s probably not very good.

Do you even know where it is?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are about 20,000 RV fires every year.

Let’s make sure one of them is not in your RV.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

There are five different types for five different types of fires.

ClassTypeExamples
ACommon combustiblespaper, fabric, plastic
BFlammable liquids and gasesgasoline, paint, oils
CElectricallive wires or outlets
DCombustible metalsmagnesium, sodium, lithium
KKitchen firesgrease, animal oil and fats

A fire extinguisher can cover a single class fire or multiple. For RVs, they should cover classes B and C at least.

A fire extinguisher that does not cover the right class cannot put the fire out! If you identify D, K, or A fire and only have a class B or C extinguisher available, evacuate immediately.

Another aspect of a fire extinguisher is whether or not it can be reused. Normally, there is a large jump in price between single use and refillable tools.

However, refillable tools are better in the long run (though hopefully you never have to use them)!

Also, depending on the kind of extinguisher and the chemicals used, they can leave residue—sometimes corrosive—or damage surface finishes.

Best Single Use Extinguisher

This choice is for people who want fire protection but don’t plan to spend a large amount of time in their RV.

For a rechargeable model (and any extinguisher, really), this is a great value for the money. It is a class B:C.

First Alert Fire Extinguisher | RV and Marine, White, Rechargeable
  • 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.
  • Metal pull pin with safety seal to help prevent accidental discharge and discourage tampering
  • Corrosion-resistant, easy-to-read, color-coded metal gauge; waterproof label with simple instructions

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Best Fire Extinguisher as an Investment

If you are a full time RVer, investing a quality fire extinguisher is a must. The trust factor alone will let you relax knowing you have prepared for the unexpected.

The H3R HalGuard is a class B:C extinguisher with a 5 year limited warrantee. It comes with a steel strap and mounting bracket.

This model is particularly great because it is designed not to damage surfaces; only fire will hurt your RV, not the tools you use to stop it.

H3R Performance HG100C HalGuard Chrome Clean Agent Fire Extinguisher
  • No thermal shock to electronics, no mess or damage to vehicle or surfaces and liquefied gas extinguishes hard-to-reach fires
  • Includes steel strap and mounting bracket; high quality steel cylinders; all metal valve construction
  • Compact, lightweight, easy to use and has a 6 feet - 8 feet discharge range and extinguishing agent is halotron 1
  • Does not impair operators vision, EPA approved and is listed and rated 1B:C by Underwriters Laboratories
  • Rechargeable; made in U.S.A. and is backed by a five year limited warranty; non-returnable

How to Use A Fire Extinguisher

RV Fire Extinguisher directions of use - PASS method

How Many Do You Need?

The answer is more than one, for most size RVs.

Campers

One-room campers do need only one.

It should be readily accessible and easy to reach. Everyone who may use it should know where it is.

Even though some campers don’t even have a heating element (heater), a fire extinguisher is still best practice.

Larger RVs

For anything bigger than a camper, you should have three: one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen (galley), and one accessible from outside.

The extinguisher on the outside should be in an unlocked and labeled compartment.

If your RV doesn’t have this, make sure you have at least one in your tow vehicle.

RV Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are essential for any time you are not alert. And trust me, you do not want to spend all your traveling vacation worrying about fire.

Make sure your smoke detectors have power and work properly before every trip.

Like the detectors in your home, good maintenance is all it takes.

Best All-In-One Option

If you need to replace an old one or want to add more (better safe than sorry), First Alert is a quality brand.

We like their model SCO5CN, a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector all in one. It is battery operated, so it’s easy to install.

The price is great for an all-in-one model.

It you’re curious what real users think of it, ask the nearly 2,300 reviews on Amazon.

Natural Gas Detector

Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms do not detect propane or other natural gases.

For this reason, getting a natural gas alarm is an extra precaution that can make a world of difference.

Best Practices

The list below is a good thing to skim over, as a reminder, before you go on a trip.

I highly recommend bookmarking this page and showing it to your family.

  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before every trip
  • Check all emergency exits (windows, etc) before each trip
  • Do not drive with propane or propane based appliances running
  • If you don’t know the source of the fire, do not try to put it out. Get OUT!
  • Do not leave stove or cooking unattended ever
  • 12-Volt lights can get extremely hot. Keep away from combustibles (paper, clothes, curtains)
  • Do not overload circuits with too many extension cords. (Learn more)
  • Check extension cords and other cables for damage regularly
  • Keep generators away from sources of ignition (campfires, etc)
  • Spills of any liquid from the RV, car, gas, or propane are risks. Deal with spills immediately.

You can see a longer list of best practices here.

Electrical Problems

There are a few items I want to highlight, electricity being number 1 among them.

Extension Cord Good Habits

First off, it’s a bad idea to plug an extension cord into another extension cord/power strip (Don’t ever do it!)

If you suddenly happen to need a few more extension cords, hop over here for our favorite.

Well Wired RVs Prevent Fires

If you ever notice frayed wires, wires tearing at the junction points, any wire where you can see the silvery metal of the cable itself—anytime you even think you might see a problem, do something.

A thorough wrapping of electrical tape is a quick fix. However—as soon as you can—replace the cable, if it’s a available and possible. Otherwise get a professional electrician.

Inspections

I always say once a month, but depending on your use, many RVers can get by less frequently.

An electrical inspection could be you looking through your RV, glancing at the electrical panel, everywhere that’s accessible to look for the above-noted signs of problems.

An inspection could also be a professional electrician or at least a handyman checking your RV.

Other kinds of inspections are important too, like pre-trip checklists.

Parking

Weren’t expecting this, were you?

It’s important not to park near any flammable plants, tall grasses, or other similar objects.

Rusted and burning old car in grassy field
Bit dramatic, but the best image I could find that gets the point across.

Especially applicable when boondocking (camping off-grid), be careful to avoid anything that maybe, just a little, might catch fire.

The whole underside of your RV, from tailpipes to engine block to undercarriage to exhaust pipes can all get extremely hot.

FAQ

How many RV Fire Extinguishers do you need?

One-room campers do need only one.

For anything bigger than a camper, you should have three: in the bedroom, in the kitchen (galley), and one you can access outside, whether from unlocked compartment or in your towing vehicle.

Do RVs have smoke or carbon monoxide detectors?

Yes! They all should. If you don’t, get a battery operated, smoke and CO detector (from Amazon) or go here to learn more and read our review.

What is a class A fire?

Class A fires are common fires as most people think of them. Burning paper, cloth, fabric, plastic, or rubber are considered class A fires.

What is a class B fire?

A class B fire is any fire starting by or burning flammable liquids and gases such as gasoline, paint, oils, or tar.

What is a class C fire?

A class c fire is an electrical fire from live wires, outlets, cables, or any other electrical equipment that ignites.

What is a class D fire?

A class D fire is the ignition and burning of combustible metals such as sodium, magnesium, or lithium. (Like the smartphone batteries that caught on fire.)

What is a class K fire?

The K is class K fire stands for kitchen. This class of fire is any ignition and burning of grease, animal oils or fats, vegetables, or any other kitchen fire.

How do I use a fire extinguisher?

Use the acronym PASS.
– Pull out the pin from the top and handle of the extinguisher.
– Aim at the base of the fire, not the flame.
– Squeeze the handle.
– Sweep back and forth across the base of the fire.
Fire Safety: How to Use an RV Fire Extinguisher - PASS method

Can I keep leave my RV plugged into electricity (all the time)?

Yes. It’s best not to leave any large applications running for long periods of time, like the fridge (though some RVers do it anyway) but keeping it connected to electricity is completely fine.

Jared Gillis does a great job explaining strategies you can use to avoid RV fires in this video (not connected to RV SUPPLY Co, just another great member of the community)

The End

Thanks for reading! We hope you find this helpful. If you have suggestions, content ideas, feedback or want to contribute send us a quick email at info@rvsupplyco.com.

DISCLAIMER: This is a general guide. In practice, every situation is different. RV SUPPLY Co in no way implies or states any responsibly whatsoever of any consequence or cause of any fire or fire-related event whatsoever.

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