I saw two news stories recently that hit close to my “RV home.” I nearly lost my RV to a propane fire last summer! The stories I saw today were about older RV’s that were completely destroyed by fire, one was definitely a propane fire and the other is still under investigation. Unfortunately, two men died in that incident. I can’t stress enough the importance of RV fire safety when traveling and living in your RV.
Last summer I was on a long trip and stopped for fuel at a Flying J truck stop. It was an older Flying J so the roads were heavily rutted by the constant truck traffic. We fueled the truck and pulled over to the truck parking to take a break. Hilga went back to open the RV and I heard the scream of the dreaded word: Fire!
I quickly ran for the propane tanks and shut them off not yet knowing what the cause of the fire was, but propane sure would not make it any better! What had happened was in the rutted roads a few plates had managed to push a cabinet door open and strike the stove knobs, one in ignite mode and the other on full gas. The corian top was over the stove so it began to melt and create a terrible smelling smoke that had filled the rid to the point of not being able to see anything. Shutting the propane down had stopped the stove from doing further damage.
We think the fire had only occured a minute or two earlier as I was moving the rig from the pumps to the truck parking. It looked like it had just got started. The damage was only to the stove top, which we had to get rid of, and a lot of smoke in the rig, but no other permanent damage was done. Everything around the stove top was really hot and we were seconds away from the whole rig going up. If you have ever seen an RV on fire, and I have, it is something you won’t forget. Most times it’s completely destroyed.
We were very lucky - it was a learning experience. We now secure all cabinet doors with bungies when we travel because poor roads exist everywhere and things can come flying out of cabinets quite easily. We also now travel with the propane off!
The RV manufacturers don’t really tell you but you are supposed to shut your propane off while in travel mode. Every one thinks that the RV fridge is both electric and propane so you can run it on propane while you travel. That’s what we were told ten years ago when we started RVing. The truth is, the fridge will stay cold for eight hours during travel, especially if it is set to the maximum cold setting before hitting the road.
For those folks that have rigs with generators, they can travel with them on an keep the fridge cool if need be, but it is not necessary. It does not matter whether it is a Dometic, Norcold, or even a residential fridge. You can travel without power and they will remain cold as long as you keep the door closed.
Take it from Franz! When you travel in the RV, make it a habit that when you disconnect the power to the rig, also turn off the propane. When you reach your destination and plug back in, turn the propane back on. For those boon-dockers out there, same thing. A lot of RV fires occur because of propane! So obey the first rule of RV fire safety and you will avoid a possible catastrophe!
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