A portable fire extinguisher and a fire blanket are probably the best two investments in fire safety for your motorhome. Selecting the correct type of fire extinguisher is paramount to ensuring your safety and protecting your assets from the effect from fire.
In Australia there are special requirements published by the Government that cover the selection, installation and maintenance of a portable fire extinguisher for vehicles. These requirements are called the "Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 44/01 – Specific Purpose Vehicle Requirements) 2006"
22.214.171.124. Fire Extinguisher
Motorhomes and ‘Caravans’ shall be provided with a fire extinguisher(s) selected and located in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 2444 - 1985 “Portable Fire Extinguishers - Selection and Location”.
The mounting bracket must also comply with Australian Standard 2444. It must be able to withstand the forces that result from impact or braking and must be designed such that the fire extinguisher does not dislodge during travel.
Selecting the correct type of fire extinguisher for a motorhome is based on the types of fires and risks we might typically expect in this type of environment.
The Vehicle Standards Guide 5 (VSG-5) published by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator ("NHVR") also sets out specific requirements for the rating and mounting location of a fire extinguisher in a motorhome as follows;
Every motorhome must contain at least one fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 5B, which also complies with Australian Standard 2444 – Portable Fire Extinguishers and Fire Blankets. At least one of these fire extinguishers must be securely mounted in the living space of the motorhome, in a readily visible and accessible position no higher than 1.2 metres from the floor of the living space.1
Every portable fire extinguisher is given a classification (class) and rating according to its ability to control and suppress a fire. For a motorhome, the obvious types of fires we might expect include fuel that include;
- Combustible Materials: such as cloth, paper, wood, rubber and many plastics;
- Flammable Liquids: such as petroleum products and oil;
- Electrical Equipment.
There may also be a need for a fire extinguisher for flammable gasses such as propane or butane used for outdoor BBQ's or indoor kitchens. The reality however is that an fire extinguisher for this class of fire is quite specialised and in a motorhome, as long as good gas cylinder maintenance is practiced and fittings and gas pipelines and secure, then the likelihood of a gas fire is very low.