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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Fire Safety! - Do On-Board Fire Extinguishers Expire?

    While I was in my RV a few days ago checking my smoke detector's battery, I figured I should make sure that the fire extinguisher was still "in the green" on the gauge. It was. Then I got to thinking, "I've had this fire extinguisher for at least 7 years." It's a common ABC dry chemical style available at most big box stores. It got me wondering, "Is it still good?" I mean, they aren't all that expensive to replace. So if you believe in the "better safe than sorry" school of thought, why not replace it? Is there anything on the market that's better? After a bunch of research I found some things out. Read on!


See The Fire Extinguisher, Bottom Left
Most manufacturers recommend inspecting each extinguisher at least once a year for damage and constant pressure. It's easy to do. Look at the extinguisher: Is it dented, the handle broken or perhaps the nozzle cracked? If so, replace it. That's obvious. Look at the gauge: Is it still indicating the same as when you purchased it? Is it at least in the green? If not...replace it.  Also recommended is to flip the extinguisher over and give it a good shake and "thump" to loosen the powder inside and prevent caking. All that being said, most manufacturers recommend replacing it when it is between 5 years and 15 years old. I am not so sure I would trust my or my RV's safety to a 15-year-old (or even a 10-year-old!) fire extinguisher. For around $20.00 or so, you can easily purchase a new one.

Which one to buy? Well, the least expensive is the dry chemical (powder) style. They will put a fire out (HINT-Aim at the base of the flames,) but do make a pretty big mess. The powder itself is very fine and gets into everything. But it sure beats the alternative! There are quite a few other types. As a pilot I've used various mixes of HALON fire extinguishers for decades. Unfortunately, they are hard to get now since Halon hurts the ozone layer. Halotron is similar but even more expensive. The other issue is they only work on Class B and C fires. What does that mean?


In the world of fire safety, Class A is trash, wood, and paper, Class B is liquids and gases, and Class C is electrical fires. In our RVs you really need all three. Look at it this way: If you have a fire and must discharge your extinguisher inside, it WILL make a mess. But letting it burn would cause MANY more issues, not to mention being life threatening!! After my almost battery fire, I became a firm believer in fire extinguishers as a precautionary measure.  Be safe. Replace!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

15 comments:

  1. Yup, just replaced all my Fire Extinguishers in my House and RV. 3 in my house and 3 in my RV. Marked all of them and will replace in about 7 years.

    It is also recommended that Dry Chemical extinguishers should be inspected at least once a year and shaken upside down to loosen the Dry Chemical in the casing. That way the extinguisher will work properly and not get clogged when you really need it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown,
      Yup... Missed the upside down shake and thump. Will edit the main article! Great tip,

      Thanks,

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. Everything you said is almost correct. As part of your annual inspection of you fire inspection, be sure to turn the extinguisher upside down and give it a few good thumps and shakes to make sure to loosen the powder (clumpy powder will not discharge properly). Also, a fire extinguisher will actually last more than the 5-15 years (manufactures just want your money). If properly maintained, fire extinguishers will last for 24 years. If your fire extinguisher has a plastic handle, replace it now. If the extinguisher shows sighs of rust, dents or other signs of abuse (think of a scuba tank as they are simular) replace it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gerald,
      Absolutely! I have added that info to the main article. Can't believe I missed that factoid.

      Thanks,

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  3. This is surely a pipe dream when RV manufacturers don't even always provide any 12v outlets or enough 120V outlets, but has anyone seen fire sprinklers in an RV? I have a 35' with one door, often housing expensive/explosive comments, and do a lot of soldering and other higher risk things. Even a small fire would be "bad." It would be almost trivial to add $5 sprinkler heads and a little tubing when/once ceiling was open. Obviously you'd be dependent on your pump or city water, but parked is when most fires would happen... just thinking...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wolfe,
      Aside from fire, one of the worst things to happen to an RV is water infiltration. Even in small to moderate amounts, water will get into the substrates and "kill" and RV over time. Yes, you would be able to save the fire and likely smoke damage, but what about the long term affects of the water. This is a cost /benefit equation. Maybe not water, but something else...located close to potential fire sources...

      Interesting concept. Surely a "pipe dream!"

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. I wasn't going to retrofit, but it seems your argument is that, due to poor manufacturing that would lead to water leaks, we shouldn't have sprinklers to protect from poor manufacturing that leads to fires? ;D

      Since I carry large amounts of "boomey" stuff professionally, I'll keep several large ABC extinguishers within reach. Or more likely, learn to run REALLY fast...

      Delete
    3. Wolfe,
      Flight or Fight....isn't that ALWAYS the question?

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  4. It should also be noted that a large percentage of fire extinguishers manufactured by Kidde since the 70's have been recalled and will be replaced free. Go here https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/kidde-recalls-fire-extinguishers-with-plastic-handles-due-to-failure-to-discharge-and or here https://www.kidde.com/home-safety/en/us/support/product-alerts/recall-kidde-fire-extinguisher/
    Bret

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bret,
      Excellent Info! Free is a great price, even better that's it's a safety device. I hope everyone who reads this and has a Kidde extinguisher takes advantage of the recalls.

      Thank you,

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. Thanks Bret! ...because I outfitted my shop and house in batches, 5 of my extinguishers were included. 2 more have right model numbers but strangely won't go into their form.

      Delete
  5. Great comments! 1 more thing..if you ever discharge the extinguisher even a tiny bit it needs serviced. Powder settles in the seal and it will leak down and be useless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown,
      Yup. Break the seal and it will quickly bleed out, pressure-wise!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  6. Our brand new 2018 Thor Quantum RS26 can with a Kidde BC fire extinguisher. This made little sense to me and I've added an Amerex ABC fire extinguisher as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown,
      Why would you NOT want an "A" extinguisher? Good for you for adding the new one!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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