Back in November 2015 we posted a Quick Tip on adding a smoke detector or two inside your cargo bay. (Find it here) This was posted as we felt it is an often overlooked area of the coach for fire protection. The post was simple and quick with a short video.
We are making this post as we received an email from a reader that we thought we would share with you all.
I want to thank you for a post you did in November 2015. You wrote about the smoke detector you placed in your basement. I thought that was a good idea and ordered one and put it in our basement.
A couple of weeks ago I heard a noise coming from the bowels of our rv. I had forgotten about the smoke detector in the basement. When I realized what it was I investigated and saw smoke coming out from behind the water heater. I turned off the electricity to the heater and aired out the basement. It turns out the exterior power switch had fried and started burning the wiring and the insulation.
Your post on your website possible saved us from a much bigger disaster to our full-time home.
I have enjoyed reading your blog and the many suggestions you have given to fellow RVers. Thanks for the suggestions and hope to meet you on the road someday.
A few days after we made the post about adding one to your cargo bay, we helped put out an RV fire. Not kidding, it was only two days after that post. (RV Fire – “A Dog’s Tale”) Now while that fire was caused by the refrigerator, it still goes to show that you never know where a fire could start in a coach or RV. We personally have had two electrical issues were smoke was in a bay before we knew anything was going on.
So after having received the above e-mail, we thought that it may be a good idea to make another quick post for those who may not have seen the original quick tip.
To those that did read it…Did you install one or two? (First Alert Micro Atom)
Please be so kind to share this post with others. After all, we are not talking about something that costs a lot of money to do and it just may save you or someone else from a much larger issue.
Mention of a refrigerator fire reminds me how glad I am we’re finally in an all-electric coach.
We’re not immune from fire danger, obviously, but not having to worry about all the propane-fueled appliances in traditional RVs is comforting.
I get amused when the subject of propane in RVs comes up, and all the owners of such RVs jump instantly on the defensive, insisting propane poses no risk. Tell that to all the RVers whose adsorbtion refrigerators caught on fire and either destroyed their RV, or came close to it. The risk is real.
All of the comments about absorption fridges I’ve read in past few months have me checking out the 12V Nova Kool compressor fridges. Price wise, it’s almost a wash when it comes to the same size abosorption fridge over the 12V compressor fridge. Know I’ll never be able to go with complete electric coach, as my vintage unit does not have the storage capacity for all of the extra batteries required when boon-docking. As camping out in the wild is what I love best, all-electric just isn’t an option. Nothing ruins a peaceful wilderness setting than to hear a genset fire up and run for hours.
Would love your opinion on the Nova-Kool units if you’ve had any experience with one.
As well, maybe an article on how to best avoid fires in absorption fridges? I’ve commonly found ‘residents’ in areas of fridge while unit is parked for any period of time. Comes with the ‘get-ready’ list now, pull fridge access panel, as well as hot water heater and check for critters.
Oh well, joys of a 30 year old Airstream motorhome!
Thanks for an informative email,
Jan 2017. Norcold Frige caught on fire. Marilee grabbed the 2 cats, jumped in the car and drove away. I grabbed the fire extinguisher started the fighting the fire behind the air vent behind the refer. and from the outside of the coach. We had 40 seconds before the fire was in the walls. In 3 minutes, the coach was fully involved. The firetrucks arrived in 4 minutes. We are full timers and it was all gone in a flash. But, our next coach is being delivered next week, April 2017, and will be installing 2 First alerts, one in each end of the cargo bay. While you are looking at your insurance policy, boost you personal property coverage. Our agent had us covered for 3K. Total. We now have a new agent and policy. The coached burned to the ground. Nothing was saved. If it wasn’t singed, it was smoke damaged, or water soaked, or foam damaged. The smoke detectors began working just before the firemen arrived. But we’re good. Getting back on the road in May. Safe travels.
Most things involve trade-offs. Owning an all-electric RV which has the generator auto-start feature is one such trade-off. No one, including those of us who have them, look forward to listening to our generator running. But, OTOH, the alternative of running down the house batteries to keep the frig operating is not an option. So, it is, what it is. But “all the extra batteries” to run an all-electric Class A coach is a bit overstated – conventional propane-equipped Class A’s normally come with 4 batteries – the all-electric configuration only adds two more, for a total of six.
I harbor no illusions about the limitations our all-electric configuration places on our dry-camping capabilities, but that’s never been a priority for us.
Tom – Very sorry to hear of your misfortune. It does corroborate my assertion that propane poses risks. Every propane appliance depends on an open flame to operate, and all the shaking and movement of everything inside an RV as it goes down the road takes a toll on the numerous propane gas fittings over time. When a leak happens near an open flame, the result is predictable.
Glad you’re back on the road again.
I took a look at those little First Alert detectors, and noted that they are photoelectric only. Smoke detectors can have two different types of sensor technologies: photoelectric (for visible smoke) and ionization (for invisible chemicals). There are a very few models that are dual sensors (and I’m not talking about the dual sensors smoke/CO detectors) that I feel are safer (and are recommended by RV fire experts like Mac the Fire Guy). You may want to consider investigating and see if you think they are worth the additional cost (and size). A couple example models are Kidde PI9010 (9v battery model) or First Alert SA3210 (10 year battery) (I actually have one of each in my RV right now). In any case, good suggestion on adding them to the basement, thanks.