In the June 2015 issue of BCM, I wrote an article for BCM called “The Talk”. In it, we covered the ins and outs of why you should review the fire extinguisher protection in your beautiful and most expensive bus conversion. Since then, and most recently, you may have heard about the massive recall of about 40 million fire extinguishers.
I am going out on a limb here to guess that most RVers have one of these in their rig. They were installed basically as a “freebie” by the manufacturer of the rig to feign fire protection. The rest of the population of RVers which includes bus conversions, boats, cars etc., have purchased this type of fire extinguisher solely because of their weensy price tag. Let me explain why this is wrong thinking and what the penalty is.
The information I have read on the recall of these fire extinguishers varies by author. However, it all boils down to the hardware that operates the extinguisher. In a word, it is “plastics”.
The best construction of a good reliable fire extinguisher should be metal to metal contact where the pressurized tank is attached to its operating hardware, and is very difficult to fracture. The gauge can be plastic but little else. Further, small and lightweight fire extinguishers do little for you in the control of most fires. The small fire extinguishers found in a typical RV might extinguish a small fire in a wastebasket. But if it has gotten away from you at all, scram the heck out of there. Grab your spouse and animals, if you can, and get out.
If you had purchased a good 2A:10BC rated fire extinguisher, as I recommended a few years back, you would have the possible extinguishing power for the wastebasket, the curtains, a grease fire on the stove, and maybe even some wood veneer on the walls.
On the previous page, a coach had a fire in the engine compartment. A diesel engine fire has a chance of extinguishment if you could get your hands quickly on a 2A:10BC fire extinguisher. But if you look closely on these coaches, the fire gutted the interior of these rigs. Sometimes a fire will originate in the engine compartment, but another easy way for a fire to start is to have a tire blowout. The tremendous friction against a blown tire will ignite the tire and the rest of the coach could go with it.
Suffice to say that, the more fire you have, the least you can do about it. The 2A:10BC you have on hand will extinguish a fire that you have observed in its beginning stage. If the fire started two minutes before you saw it, it is time for a fire engine, and you will likely fail or die of asphyxiation before you can get it under control. Adding one more factor to the mix; please know that fire trucks are not everywhere. When you are camping in remote areas, there is no time to wait for a distant fire truck. If you have a 2A:10BC fire extinguisher, you may be fortunate enough to contain a small fire.
So, the bottom line is this: When you are in dire straits with fire, a small lightweight fire extinguisher will not cut the mustard. Since you can’t tow a fire truck with you as your “dingy”, at least carry a fire extinguisher that will kick the average fire in the derriere; a 2A:10BC that costs something under $100. For that price, you can keep the extinguisher forever, use it repeatedly (after having it recharged), and take it with you in any vehicle you drive.
At this point, I will stifle myself with the hope that you are now a little fearful of how devastating a fire can be, both physically and financially. Please keep the wimpy little fire extinguisher that you have if you want but use it only after first using the 2A:10BC.
Here are a few reminders about fire that you have probably heard, most of your life:
However, in the journey of life, many things can and will happen to you, including perhaps winning a huge lottery. Odds say that it’s the lottery that can’t happen to you.
There is nothing complicated about taking care of your fire extinguisher. However, these words assume that you have an ABC rated, dry chemical fire extinguisher, in a metal tank, with metal workings. The little plastic ones do not need any maintenance and cannot be recharged if used.
Now then, here are the few things you should do or check with a righteous fire extinguisher: