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Old 09-01-2012, 01:37 PM   #29
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Not so lucky

Out fifth wheel caught fire near the batteries in the front cabinet. Probably from one of the hot wires shorting to the frame. There was no grommet or anything to protect the wires from abrading. $23,000 in damages. 1,200 from the fire and the rest from the tow truck driver's mistakes. He dropped it at 35MPH. We were shocked that it wasn't totaled.

My brother in law lost his fifth wheel, his house and allmost all posessions, and part of his neighbors house. No cause positivly identified. $1.5M & still counting. Probably the converter or referigerator.
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Old 09-01-2012, 02:45 PM   #30
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The FireFight products are good. I originally installed a Cold Fire system in my coach's engine bay. See RV Fire Safety for details on this and general fire topics. I purchased my system from Mac The Fire Guy ( but he now handles the FireFight products because Cold Fire got really expensive. Mac is an industry professional and I just sat through his seminar at the Indianapolis FMCA convention and continued to learn even more.

I went with a large tank system with a dash mounted warning device. I figure that if something happens the system will deploy and give me an instant alarm. That should give me plenty of time to pull over and shut down. Engine bay fires generally keep getting fed by fuel or hydraulic oil unless you shut down the engine and stop pumping fuel. The bigger the tank, the more time you have. I then can decide whether to attack it with a hand held extinguisher (assuming it's still burning) or bail out with a few things and watch it burn. Without the warning device, this units don't stand a chance. They'll expel their retardant and the fire will keep burning. By the time you notice it, it's too late.

Mac gave some interesting statistics. I forget the exact numbers but engine fires on diesel pushers are the number one cause. Both fuel and hydraulic oil are under high pressure and a leak causes the fuel to atomize quickly. Once it hits the hot turbo it ignites. The second biggest cause (and number one on a front engined gasser) is refrigerator fires, most notoriously the larger 12 cu ft fridges, such as the 4 door Norcold. The cooling units are filled with ammonia and if they leak, hydrogen gas gets out and it's the Hindenburg all over again. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be running on propane to ignite. The electric element will ignite the gas just as well. Last on the list are fires caused by faulty electrical wiring, which usually rubs through and shorts out.

The Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) extinguishers are the best choice for an RV application. Both automatic units, such as FireFight's compact unit for behind RV fridges or larger engine compartment units, as well as handheld units are the perfect fit. Foam units also don't need to be "whacked" every now and then to make sure they don't cake up, unlike dry chemical extinguishers. They also don't cause a messy, corrosive cleanup once deployed.
Mark & Leann Quasius
2016 Cornerstone 45A
2007 Allegro Bus 42QRP (Sold)
2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Rubicon
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Old 09-01-2012, 04:55 PM   #31
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If you are in an area where there is a large marina, then check with them for marine fire extinguisher systems. Marine systems will work in a motorhome, as they have been running diesels for many years and the Coast Guard has created standards that they must pass when used in large boats. The extinguishing agent can be placed a distance from the application nozzle and they have alarm system features.

Go look up West Marine for the systems they carry.
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:37 PM   #32
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Marine systems are similar but one thing to keep in mind is that the application isn't the same. Most marine systems use Halon or other gasses to flood the engine compartment on a boat and smother the fire. Many alarm systems can also be configured to kill the engine and any auxiliary blowers to retain the retardant in the enclosed engine room rather than vent it.

Diesel pusher engine bays are open and halon isn't a good choice for that application because it escapes the compartment and allows fresh air in. AFFF (foam) systems work best for that.
Mark & Leann Quasius
2016 Cornerstone 45A
2007 Allegro Bus 42QRP (Sold)
2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Rubicon
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Old 09-02-2012, 07:04 PM   #33
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Norcold Refridgerator...
Neighbors MH...we managed to hose it out before it got away from us. My wife saw it from inception, we were on it in less than 10 seconds. Keep a hose and nozzel always on the ready.
Saved the coach, Norcold paid for 3 roofs, 2 skin jobs that bubbled, and, just last month, a trip to Winnebago for a real total roof repair. Now all good...
It was very scary.....verrrry scarry!
Back to a 5'er after 4 yrs fulltime.
Pulling with a '14 2500 ram, 6.4 Hemi.
Montana High Country 31RE
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