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Motorhome Engine Compartment Fire Suppression System

coachfire1As you may know, but if you do not here you go, one of the larger causes of coach fires is the engine. You would think in this day and age that engines would not be such an issue. After all, our cars are not just starting on fire out of nowhere for the most part. But for some reason, looking over photos and videos on-line of coach and bus fires, it sure does seem that the fires start in the rear engine compartment.

The biggest cause of this is the high-pressure fuel lines that can rupture or leak and then you have fuel coming out at a high rate of speed that can come out as a vapor. If that hits the heat of the exhaust system that could be currently purging the emissions system, poof! Fire erupts and in an RV or coach WILL spread VERY quickly.

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Foam Fire Suppression System

So we have done a few fire tips here in the past like Adding Smoke Detectors to the Cargo Bay, Suggest using FOAM extinguishers, and sadly, an RV fire that where we helped save a dog. So with all that in mind, I have wanted for a long time to add a automatic foam fire suppression system to the coach. Why now? Well we did just have a high pressure relief value go bad (no leak thankfully) and that got us thinking of the high pressure fuel line leak we DID have with our old coach. Engine lights lit up that there was an issue. So we pulled over and was shocked to discover the entire engine covered in fuel to the point that even the tow car was wet with fuel past the windshield! So again… why now? Well, because I was reminded of it from our friends Jim and Beverly.

What had stopped me in the past was I was told that there was not enough room in the compartment to put in a system as it could go off based on the engine heat, seeing that there is not a lot of room. (Yeah, no kidding that there is no room,) In fact, when we first got this coach we did have it looked at by a guy in the RV industry that sells these systems. He had the installer he uses come over and take a look when we were at the FMCA Indio Rally. He said it would be very hard to do.

Well, after it was put back into my mind I thought… Hummm… What’s so hard? After some research into the various systems, I was NOT concerned over them going off due to engine heat, as the heads need to reach 286 degrees to deploy. 286 degrees is A LOT of heat to the point where you really would need a flame to make that happen in an area that has moving air. So, in other words, an actual fire in the compartment.

So I set out to make an easy install of it so that others could also do it if they wanted. Now understand, this is how I did in for our 2014 Tiffin Allegro Bus 45LP. However if you own a 2013 or newer Phaeton or Allegro Bus, there is a good chance the mounting would be the same. There is also a good chance that it would be an easy install for other coaches as well.

Now I say easy.  Buy that I mean, I in no way wanted to mount the heads in a way that would require me to remove the engine hatch to get to it and then work upside down dropping things along the way. So I needed a plan, a simple plan and so I came up with one after looking it over.

12" C Channel with angle bracket for mounting.

12″ C Channel with angle bracket for mounting.

I have NO IDEA why someone has not come up with this idea before. If they had, I surely have not seen it and even the installer, who does these all the time, did not even think of it. That being, a simple aluminum C channel or angle to make a mount that could hold the head and fasten into the back end of the coach. Based on how the coach rear engine compartment is laid out, I only needed the supports to be about 10 or 11 inches long.  As such, not a lot of “lever” force to worry about. And the heads are very light. Very.  So again, we are not talking about a lot of weight.

 

So here you have it. With some parts from a Lowes or Home Depot, you too can install a fire suppression system for that “just in case” moment that may never happen but you would be glad you had one if it ever did.

First we needed to mount the tank and on the Allegro Bus it has the PERFECT spot.

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Mark fasten point

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Properly Secure!

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Ready for canister.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then setup the foam canister with the needed line connections.

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Connections Installed

Get to mounting it. This can be tricky.

Get to mounting it.

Mounted Canister ready!

Mounted Canister ready!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now with the 286-degree heads attached to the mounting bracket you made, it is as easy as connecting the lines to the heads, and sliding it back into place. Once you check and recheck the position, mount it to the back wall.

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Passenger side 1/2 way down engine showing mount.

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Passenger side 1/2 way down engine.

Driver Side

Driver Side 1/2 way down engine.

Full mounted and hooked up!!!

Full mounted and hooked up!!!

There are also smaller systems but for these larger coach engines, you surely want the 4 liter dual head. There are smaller ones for like the generator and even one for the battery compartment that uses Halon.

Now remember, mileage will greatly very as to how you may install one if you so choose for your coach. This is in no way a how to that will cover every coach. It is meant as a way to show you a way you maybe could mount the heads that would surely make it much easier to install if you can use a slide back bracket.

Now have we gone overboard doing this? I would have to think that some of you will say “Yup you have!”. So sure, this might be over the top to install such a system. But considering we did have a cracked high pressure fuel line that could have ended badly, and then on this coach a high pressure relief valve fail, to us $500 is something that makes us feel better. And the way that I installed it, it would be easy to remove and put into another coach when/if that time comes.

So do with this information, as you will. It was not meant to scare you. It was meant to show you that such systems do exist. And get this…you can purchase it off Amazon!

Amazon:

Fire Fight Products – SS300-R4-Double Head 4 Liter Foam (For Engine area)

Fire Fight Products – SS30-90-CAG 90 1lbs Halon – (For Battery compartment)

I did a quick video talking about it…

14 thoughts on “Motorhome Engine Compartment Fire Suppression System

  1. roger

    Thanks. This is great! (And please share what’s up with your shirt and the hands-thru-the-sleeves deal. That looks kinda great too.) Cheers!

  2. Robert Strome

    This is a great idea and a long needed one, can not believe that the coach builders have not included this. I have seen several coaches with fire roaring out of the engine compartment and coaches melted down from the rear forward and it happens unbelievably fast.

    1. David.B Post author

      I had just got done installing it when we did the video. So it had not been turned on as of yet. (It was mentioned at the end of the video that I knew it. :))

  3. 2brew

    I too thought this was a good idea when MAC the FIRE GUY presented the idea at a Rally in Goshen, IN over two years ago. He has been selling a prefab kit for a few years. I bought and installed his system in 2014. We rest easier knowing it’s there.

  4. Dave

    I might add,it is a good practice to scan your Gage’s every 15 seconds as well your mirrors. The smoke you see may be a tire or from the engine on fire. Sorry we can’t be with you at Quartzsite , we are in California for a week or two visiting Peggy’s cousin than we will be going to Scenic Az. to visit my Brother. Than back to WV before we are snowed in.

      1. David.B Post author

        Actually, gas can ignite much easier than diesel. I would think it would be a good idea for any coach if it has room for the heads.

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