Though fires are not frequent in caravans and motorhomes, it’s still important to know what equipment you need and what you should do in case of an emergency. According to the Caravan and Motorhome Club, the most important rule when it comes to fire safety in a caravan or motor home is to get everyone out as quickly as possible. Once everyone is safe and accounted for, then is the time to consider tackling the fire and saving your possessions.
All caravans and motor homes should carry a fire extinguisher as standard but it’s important to have the right type of extinguisher and that it’s positioned correctly. Owners should also know how to use the fire extinguisher properly.
All fire extinguisher, including those used in caravans or motorhomes, should be manufactured in accordance with BS (EN)3 and tested and approved by the British Standards Institute (BSI) or the Loss Prevention Council Certificate Board (LPCB) or approved by the British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE). You can also get a list of approved extinguisher manufacturers from British Approvals Fire Equipment at www.bafe.org.uk.
The different types of fire extinguishers are classed according to the types of fire they should be used to extinguish as follows:
Although generally dry powder fire extinguishers are very effective in extinguishing all fires, they are not recommended for use in confined spaces such as caravans. We recommend caravan and motor home owners carry a foam fire extinguisher like our 1ltr Foam Commander Range which is the safest and most effective option. It is important that extinguishers are checked at regular intervals in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, though it’s generally easier and more economic to replace them. A typical life expectancy for a caravan extinguisher is between 3-5 years. It’s important to note that you should never use an extinguisher that has been discharged, even partially.
The fire extinguisher should be located in a dedicated bracket near the door but not too close to cooking appliances, where flames could make it unreachable. Don’t attempt to use a fire extinguisher on a frying pan fire. Fire blankets are a more effective option for cooking oil or fat fires.
Modern touring caravans must legally use flame-retardant foam in the upholstery and match-resistant cushion covers. If you have an older caravan, it’s advisable to replace the covers and upholstery with fire-retardant materials.
All National Caravan Council (NCC) approved dealers and manufacturers fit smoke detectors in all new and second-hand caravans but this does not apply to privately sold caravans or those sold by dealers outside the NCC. If your caravan doesn’t have a smoke detector, then it’s important to install one (preferably with a ‘hush button’ which will desensitise the unit for 10-15 minutes). This will prevent the alarm going off when you’re cooking within the confines of a caravan.
The typical causes of fires in caravans and motor homes are caused by cigarettes and discarded matches as well as pressurised containers like hairspray or shaving foam which is stored close to a heat source like an oven. Heaters can also cause issues particularly if they are incorrectly fused or if they are too closely located next to clothing, bedding or curtains.
On most Caravan and Motorhome Club approved sites, the pitches are spaced out according to fire regulations for caravan sites. As a guideline for other sites, you need to make sure that your caravan is positioned at least six metres away from the next vehicle. It’s also a good idea to keep a full bucket of water to hand outside the caravan for potential fires caused during the barbecue season.
For further advice and guidance on keeping you and your family safe in your caravan or motorhome, contact Hartson Fire on the number below. You can also order your foam extinguisher, stand and fire blanket from our website www.hartsonfire.co.uk