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Author Topic: Fire Drill  (Read 3307 times)
MCI-RICK
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« on: June 24, 2009, 05:31:46 PM »

It was my daughter's 10th birthday today.  As a present to me she smoked us out of the house (a little sarcasm).  She stuck something in the nuker and a minute later everyone was hacking and coughing and the party had to go outside where we were joined by the New Jersey mosquitoes.

It got me thinking about procedure in the case of a fire inside or outside a bus.

We haven't setup any thing specific with our kids but we will now!

Could I get some ideas/input on precautions, dues and don'ts etc?  Maybe some type of "fire drill"?

Thanks

Rick
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2009, 06:46:57 PM »

Make sure you have fire extinguishers where you can get at them when you need them - in the bedroom, by the door, at least one available without going inside the coach.  Train everyone to disconnect the electrical immediately and show them where to do that.  Most people have never actually used a fire extinguisher and while it seems intuitive and simple when you actually do a drill it is amazing how difficult it is for some people to aim at the base rather than the flames. 
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2009, 06:56:33 PM »

I like Bob's advice on that, although I probably wouldn't burden kids under 12 with knowledge about the electrical cutoffs or fire extinguishers.  Just too much danger of them misjudging when it is time to just get away from it.

In my opinion, the most important aspect is to make sure everybody knows the ways out and how to activate them (emergency escape windows, roof hatch, etc.)  Getting themselves out (and older children helping younger children) should be the only concern of the children.  Adults likewise need to know all the escape options, but also can be educated on electrical cutoffs, when to grab the fire extinguisher and when to just run and what to grab on the way out.  

Probably even more important for the adults to be educated in is how not to lose too much escape time trying to fight a hopeless fire or save too many material items.  From the various RV fire videos available on YouTube, you can see for yourself and impress upon them just how fast fire spreads in an RV and what an inferno they become.  (It is probably best to only show those to adults, it could scare the kids out of enjoying bus trips.)
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MCI-RICK
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2009, 07:22:01 PM »

RJ  - Mike,

I put an extinguisher in my bus as soon as I got it home but I hadn't gone over safety procedures or a fire drill with my family.  My son will be 14 this year and I'll acquaint him with the things you guys mentioned. 

It was a bit of a scare for me today and a reality/wake-up call.  None of us wants or expects anything bad to happen to our loved ones but we should prepare for their sake as well as our own.

My wife and I will put something together for our family.  Thanks for your input!   Smiley 

Rick
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2009, 01:00:52 AM »

This could be the best thread ever! Talk about a sticky - most important info ever for any busnut and those they love - FWIW
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2009, 05:20:01 AM »

At the least it is very "on-topic" so I'm moving it to the main board.
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rv_safetyman
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2009, 07:24:31 AM »

I could go on for hours about this subject, since it is my business. 

Please do not rely on the cheap dry powder extinguishers.  They cake up are not very powerful and they make a huge mess that will wreak havoc on electrical and some structural parts.

There are some good surfactant extinguishers that are environmentally friendly and easy to clean up. 

My biggest issue is what to do to get out of the bus if you are in bed when something catches fire in the middle.  We have a three liter extinguisher with Cold Fire beside the bed.  It has a very wide spray pattern that I am pretty sure would get us through the fire.  Might put it out, but that is a secondary issue.

We had a fire at the house many years back and I had to go close to the fire to get one of the girls out.  Very scary situation.

I do a presentation at rallies that tells about fire suppression systems and handheld extinguishers.  I have recently added a section of prepardness based on compelling stories by Karen Swaim and Diane Gouge - both of whom survived total coach losses.  Their stories are mind boggling.  The Swaim have posted quite a few details of their life after the fire at http://swaimquest.com/Coach_Fire.aspx   In my opinion, it is a must read.  The presentation is quite detailed and I have just started to hand out a CD with the information.  I might try to post that presentation on the website when things calm down a bit.

Lastly, I always tell folks not to try to fight an interior fire.  If you can catch it very early, give it a quirt and get the heck out.  It is a very small volume, and temperatures rise very quickly.  In addition, you would not believe what the construction materials give off in the way of toxic fumes
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2009, 08:34:02 AM »

I agree with Jim, it is very important to have fire extinguishers at the rear of the bus, as he says that way you have a better chance to clear a path out of the bus.
ED
Used to own a fire extinguisher company.
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Ed Van
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MCI-RICK
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2009, 10:43:54 AM »

Jim,

Are you going to be at the Arcadia Rally?  I'd love to get an education on the subject.  Nothing more important to me than my family!

The real possibility of loss exists and I think we can all benefit from your knowledge. 

We were thinking about three extinguishers.  The first in the back of the bus (our bedroom), the second near or in the kitchen area and the last in an exterior compartment for outside emergencies.  I had a few halon units years ago.  Are they still available?  They didn't make the mess like he powder ones.

I know how messy the powder ones can be and prefer not to have that type.

Rick

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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2009, 10:56:58 AM »

This isn't exactly being glossed over but I think it needs emphasizing...."The temps rise quickly"  read that as a fire in the front will raise the temp to the point where your lungs will be seared by the time you get to the middle so RUN AWAY AND STAY LOW.  Look at some of the pics....the ceiling is burned black and the micro wave is melted on the top shelf but there is no apparent damage below the 5 foot high mark.  If you would even classify it as a "fire"....don't fight it cause you can't win....run.  The heat will get you shortly but the toxic fumes will drop you in your tracks.  You have seconds...literally.


A friend lived thru a fire in his Winnie.  He was deep in the woods at a logging site, 20 miles from the nearest phone and in camp and it was only 7pm.  He was up at the drivers seat when he heard a loud thud and a whump.  The 3/8 inch copper gas line to the furnace was found parted after the ashes were sifted but no explanation.  He turned and saw flames reaching nearly to the ceiling.  He said he just lunged towards the open door and thru the flames to get out.  He ran only a few feet and when he turned he saw flames pouring out the door and an inferno behind that.  He said it was seconds till he heard windows exploding and the entire coach, front to back, was engulfed.  From that mans eye witness account I would say that the only fire you could hope to fight "in" a coach would be categorized as "CUTE". Roll Eyes  I still carry extinguishers though and I got them from Jim...."RV Safety Person."

Good luck,

John

Good luck
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2009, 12:24:39 PM »

Given the quick speed of interior fires I read about above, perhaps this idea makes no sense. But I've never seen it discussed, so here goes.

Why not install a sprinkler system in our coaches? Especially for people starting from a raw shell, where there is easy access to the whole ceiling area. I see what appears to be iron pipe used to install such systems in regular buildings. The cost of materials to run the pipe and sprinkler heads seems pretty low compared to all the other costs of a conversion. We often have a 100 gallons of water on hand, which would seem to be enough to at least party douse a fire if it's properly used and caught quickly. It might be a challenge to pump the water fast enough, but an extra pump or two is also quite affordable. Even carrying an extra dedicated 100 gallons of water just for the sprinklers is not out of the question, even though it's heavy. Maybe leave out the granite countertop in exchange for the safety factor? How many sprinkler heads would be needed? I would think one per 'room'.

Additionally, does it make sense to keep a ventilator mask or bottled air supply in the nightstand? I can only imagine how toxic the fumes must be from burning foam insulation and burning foam cushions. McMaster-Carr sells bottled air for emergencies pretty cheaply.

Also, why are people thinking they need to go to the front door to escape? If I was in the back, I would jump out the window there. The windows pop open in a second and while I might not like the impact with the ground from that height, I am pretty certain it won't kill me.

Any thoughts?
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Tim Strommen
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2009, 12:45:17 PM »

The Swaim have posted quite a few details of their life after the fire at http://http://swaimquest.com/Coach_Fire.aspx   In my opinion, it is a must read...


I just read over that...  There you have a great argument for an automatic fire detection/supression system - which gives you the best excuse to GET OUT.  Also, it's good to store your critical documents in a fire-safe onboard while traveling (preferably away from the engine-end of the rig, or any fuel storage).

When I did a bit of Yaght moving a few summers back, we had a "go-bag" in the event the boat sank while underway.  Something like this would be a great carry-over into the marine world.  Put your wallet, external USB drive, cell-phone, WATER, and a change of clothes in it.  As you run out the door to get away from the fire, grab it so you aren't screwed once the RV burns down.  For the Swaim fire, a fire alarm from the engine compartment may have given a few extra seconds of time to take action (he noticed smoke/fire in the rear-view mirror, probably after the fire had taken hold).  A built-in engine shutdown/supression system may have helped to slow the fire - and could have put the fire out while it was still relatively contained in the engine compartment (running radiator fan was pulling anti-freeze/fresh-air onto the hot ehaust, which started the fire).
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Fremont, CA
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2009, 12:47:51 PM »

After my high-pressure hydraulic hose for the radiator fan bust a few weeks ago I now realize how lucky I was.   I had Dexron II spraying all over the exhaust manifold that caused the smoke, and half the insulation inside the engine room now has Dexron soaked into it.

I have replaced the burst hose, and I will replace all the other high-pressure hydraulic hoses ASAP, including the long one to the steering box.   I should also replace all the oil and coolant hoses  -  I noticed that both the coolant hoses for the air compressor are badly cracked, and if they blew I would lose all my coolant and kill the engine.   If that happened the engine water temperature gauge would not indicate anything wrong, because there wouldn't be any coolant left!   Is there any other engine temperature monitor I could use that would quickly tell me if the engine is overheating  -  oil temperature may not rise quickly enough to alert me to a problem.   Maybe a coolant pressure or flow rate monitor would be the answer.   Does anyone have any ideas about this?

John
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2009, 01:11:34 PM »

My MCI has a light on the dash for a fire indication.  It's initialized by a heat sensor (actually, I think there are two) in the engine compartment.  Not sure what the temp rating is.  I'm sure it's in the manual someplace.  You could always install your own residential fire alarm panel with smoke and heat sensors.  I've thought about doing that, just too many other projects.  They are usually 12 volt systems anyway.  I just wrote a long winded post re. the subject of fire safety, and then hit a wrong button, I guess.  Lost it...RATS!
Dennis
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2009, 03:02:46 PM »

You have to be carefull with the backspace key - if you click outside the text-editor box, sometimes it causes the browser to go "back".  I do long-winded posts in Word first then paste it into the text box... (did the same thing more than once...)



The company that makes the extinguishers that RV-Safetyman sells, makes automatic extinguisher systems of two general types:

1) Standard temp sensitive sprinkler, like in commercial buildings
2) PEX-type hose (not actually PEX I imagine) under constant pressure, when heated, bursts at the point of peak heat spraying the extiguishant onto the heat source.

Either one would be worth the price of installation even if it didn't go off while you own the bus.
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Fremont, CA
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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2009, 06:05:41 PM »

Great comments and questions.  I would like to try to address some of them

MCI Rick.  Re:  Bussin' 10 We have been asked to go again this year.  It is a huge expensive for us, but a ton of fun.  We have an Eagle rally we need to attend in Quartzsite shortly after the Florida rally (annual meeting both Pat and I are on the board).  Concerning Halon extinguishers.  Yes, they are still available from some racing suppliers.  Very expensive to buy and have to be shipped as Hazmat.  they are only good in a closed area.  You do not want to be around, as they displace the oxygen and give off a poisonous gas.  I think the surfactant extinguishers are just as good, still very clean and can be used on most any kind of fire.

1967-MCIa  I have long advocated interior systems for physically challenged folks who could not get out of a coach quickly.  Water would not be a good choice.  Too many things to go wrong, could freeze, etc.  I think the best approach is some form of my system with the dot tubing and special spray nozzles.  You could go full blown automated or a manual version.  Converning rear exit.  Might be OK for some folks, but getting out a rather small window (mine is 25 X 27) when you have some physical issues that come with health or age, can be a challenge.  My window is over 7 feet off the ground.  You might be able to act like Tarzan, but I know my wife with RA would have a terrible time.

Tim Strommen  The Swaims did install one of my systems on their new coach.  Both Karen and Diane advocate the "go bag"

ICENI John.  Yes, hose is a huge issue.  We have lots of them and you can't always tell when they are going to go. Some go from old age or fatigue failure (from cycling pressures).  Others go from being worn by rubbing on something.  I try to inspect my hoses, but I probably do not do a good job of it.

Hi YO Silver.  My Eagle also had a fire detection system.  I took my sensor off when I did some rewiring.  I can push the test button on the dash and it says it is working.  You might want to test your system out properly by setting it off in the engine compartment.

Tim Strommen again.  You mention two systems.  The first is an extinguisher with a temperature sensitive head.  If the bottle has good material that will do a fine job.  Problem is that it can put out the fire and you never know it (doesn't send an alarm).  Then when the problem that caused the fire crops up again (that hose that did not seal itself), you have a real problem.  The melting tubing system is extremely expensive.  The last I heard, they will not sell an off-the-shelf system only custom design $$$$

Someone mentioned fire safe.  Diane shows the contents of her fire safe after the fire.  Not one piece of paper was usable.  Jewelry was melted.  Her recommendation, if you use one, is to mount it on the bay floor which might give you some chance of the heat not destroying the contents.

Several comments have been made about the fast spread of an interior fire.  Make sure you have GOOD smoke detectors.  Try to install both photo and Ion detection systems.  They work differently and give you the best chance.

Lastly, everyone is addressing fires when you are there.  I am equally concerned about fire that occur when I am away (think auto-gen start).  Again, some sort of system should be considered.

Jim

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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2009, 07:29:29 PM »

You're right, Tim.  T'was that backspace key what got me!  I'll try again.  I did some work in industrial fire protection several years ago, and most of the same principles apply.  First, install smoke detectors.  Note that they lose reliability after about eight or ten years, so replace old ones.  Test them often.  Vacuum the dust from them occassionally.  When synthetic materials found in our buses burn, the toxic fumes can kill you before you awaken.  We're not talkin' weiner roast smoke here.

Secondly, have a plan.  Actually operate emergency exits to make sure everything works like it should.  Make sure every member of the family participates in the emergency planning.  Talk about it on a regular basis, until the kids eyes glaze over and they are really bored. lol

I like to keep some water in my fresh water tank all the time, with a hose attached to an outlet. 

Keep a number of high quality rechargeable extinguishers that have a gauge to indicate pressure.  I like big ones, with metal valve assemblies.  Thanks, Barn Owl. It's a good practice to invert them and tap them with a rubber mallet every six months or so.  That will keep the powder from packing. Check with a reputable shop, or look up the standards for suitable extinguishers and maintenance and inspection standards in the National Fire Protection Association standards that are available on line.  It's NFPA 10 if I remember correctly.  I hope RV Safetyman will help me brush up if I miss something here.  If you have to use an extinguisher, remember the term PASS.  It stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.  Pull the locking pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the handles, and sweep back and forth across the base of the fire.  Do this, of course, from a safe distance.  Ideally, you should ave a way out if you are going to attempt to extinguish a fire.  Obviously, the priority is to save lives first.  Worry about property later. 

Make it a practice to check exit paths before you go to bed.  Don't leave coolers, backpacks, shoes, chairs, or anything else in the way of exits.  Imagine having to leave in a hurry, without lights, in eye-stinging smoke.  If you do have to bail out of a bus full of smoke, keep low.  That's where the cleaner and cooler air is. 

When you make an inspection, consider not only how a fire could ignite, but what could go wrong that could let an incident become a major catastrophe.


Thanks for starting this important, potentially life saving thread.  I'm sure many of you can add a lot to this.  I hope none of us ever have to use it.

Dennis
           
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MCI-RICK
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« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2009, 09:15:22 PM »

I knew there would be guys out there with knowledge on this subject.  There's a lot of use info here.   

I should mention that Nick Badame posted "RV Fire Safety Guidelines" over at board help.  It's worth the read.

Thanks for all the input everyone!

Rick
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