Caravan Fire Extinguishers & Motorhome Fire Safety in the UK
Despite the fact that having a fire extinguisher in your private vehicle, be it a car or a motorhome, is not a legal requirement in the UK, a small caravan fire extinguisher is considered an essential fire safety tool that you should always carry with you when touring. After all, fires in caravans may be a rare occurrence but they still happen and if you are faced with a fire emergency on the road, having a fire extinguisher on hand could help you save lives and prevent further damage to your motorhome.
What type of fire extinguisher do I need in a caravan?
There are six types of fire classes and five main types of fire extinguishers according to the classification accepted in the UK and each type of extinguisher is effective only against specific fire classes. This is why it’s important to get the correct extinguisher for your motorhome.
The Caravan Club recommends an AFFF fire extinguisher for caravan owners. This is a foam fire extinguisher that can be used on class B fires, involving flammable liquids, such as petrol or gasoline. You’ll recognise it by its cream-coloured label.
Another reason to buy a foam fire extinguisher for your motorhome is that it can also be used on common class A fires (involving wood, textiles and plastic), as well as on class B fires (involving flammable gasses such as propane and butane, commonly used in gas stoves).
A good alternative to the AFFF Fire extinguisher in a caravan setting is a water mist fire extinguisher (red label). Effective on A, B, C and F (kitchen fires involving cooking oils) and even electrical fires, it is arguably the best caravan fire extinguisher, due to its versatility.
If you have a foam fire extinguisher and you need to extinguish a kitchen fire where oil or cooking fats have caught fire, use your fire blanket instead – it will be a lot more effective.
Dry powder fire extinguishers (blue label), much like water mist fire extinguishers are effective against most types of fire, which makes them a common motorhome fire extinguisher type. However, they have one major disadvantage – they are not recommended for indoor use. They are messy and they could make it hard to see, which is why they are not recommended for caravans.
What size fire extinguisher do I need for a caravan fire?
Caravan fire extinguishers are smaller than the average fire extinguisher that you will find at work or at home. This is because they need to be mobile and easily fit in the limited space offered by a mobile home. Yet, motorhome fire extinguishers are just as effective as the bigger sized ones.
You can use a 1kg or less fire extinguisher in a caravan, however, an extinguisher this small is better used as a car fire extinguisher. In a caravan, a 2kg fire extinguisher is the best choice as it’s not particularly large, yet it has double the capacity of its smaller counterparts. As a caravan or a camper van is much bigger than your average car, having the ability to cover a bigger area is definitely desired.
Whatever the size of your caravan fire extinguisher, make sure it is BS EN3 approved. That shows the product you are buying is compliant with the European standards for portable fire extinguishers.
Where should I keep my caravan fire extinguisher?
The fire extinguisher in your caravan should be securely attached to the wall with a mounting bracket. When you buy a new caravan fire extinguisher, it usually comes with the bracket included, so all you have to do is fit it correctly.
The best location for the fire extinguisher is a bit trickier to pinpoint. Usually, it should be placed somewhere close to the door. However, you should make sure that it’s easily accessible. If you place the fire extinguisher too close to a cooking appliance, it may become unreachable in case of a fire, especially if the fire has started from that cooking appliance.
Are you legally required to have a fire extinguisher in your caravan?
Technically, having a caravan fire extinguisher is not a legal requirement in the UK, however, it is recommended that you have one to ensure your motorhome is safe.
We should mention here that the fire safety regulations for caravan owners are changing progressively. For example, new caravans must be fitted with match-resistant cushion covers and flame-retardant foam in the upholstery. Also, all newly manufactured caravans should have smoke detectors installed.
If you already own a caravan and it doesn’t have those features, you should definitely consider adding them as they could help limit the damages caused by dangerous fires.
What to do in the event of a caravan fire
The main rule to remember when it comes to dealing with caravan fires is that everyone has to be led to safety before you address the fire itself. Once everyone is out of the motorhome, you can attempt to extinguish the fire or save some of your belongings, if the situation allows it.
Never take risks with fire. If the flames are too big or there is too much smoke, don’t attempt to use the caravan fire extinguisher and don’t go back in for any reason. Call the fire emergency services instead and wait for the firefighters to come on the scene.