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Author Topic: Is it okay to horizontally mount a fire extinguisher?  (Read 4420 times)
Brian Diehl
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« on: August 27, 2008, 07:14:14 PM »

I have some space above my battery compartment and it would be perfect for my new 2.5 gallon "Cold Fire" extinguisher from RV Saftey Systems.  Is there any reason I can't mount it horizontally if it is still easy to get to?  This compartment is never locked and because of that fact I really want the extinguisher located there.  If I can put it above the battery box then I save a bunch of floor space and I really don't use this space above the batteries as it is.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2008, 07:16:24 PM by Brian Diehl » Logged
gumpy
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2008, 07:28:37 PM »

I have a couple of those same fire extinguishers. Just got a second one this summer. While Jim would be a better source to answer this question, I don't see why it would be a problem mounting it horizontally. It has liquid inside, as apposed to dry powder, which can clump when allowed to sit in one position for long periods.

However, that being said, are you sure you want to put it in the same compartment as the batteries?  My concern would be that there might be a potential for the batteries to overheat or get shorted, and possibly start a fire. It may be that you can't get to the fire extinguisher when needed. Not sure that's necessarily a concern, but certainly one to consider.

I have one mounted inside the coach next to the door. Not sure it'll stay there in the long term when I get a nicer interior, but it's very convenient there for now. Not sure where I'm going to put the second one. Probably the first or second bay. Thinking whether I should put it on the driver or passenger side. Leaning towards the driver side, maybe next to the generator and inverter in the first bay, since the first one is on the passenger side. I'm also considering using RV antifreeze in the second one rather than water, in an attemnpt to freeze-proof it.

craig

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2008, 08:04:03 PM »

I have another fire extinguisher in the inside of the bus.  I think I would be able to use that extinguisher in the event of a battery issue.  Good point about considering the potential of a battery issue though!  I used RV antifreeze in my extinguisher.  I'm happy with that choice given my desire to put it in place and forget about it unless needed (and annual pressure checks!).
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2008, 08:19:36 PM »

RV antifreeze works as well as water?
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Fred Thomson
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2008, 08:27:50 PM »

RV antifreeze works as well as water?


Well, it was recommended by Jim for the extinguisher so it can be winter proof.  He has tested it and said it works fine...     Undecided
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2008, 10:39:33 PM »

Unlocked?   Hummmmmmm.

The bats are really valuable but their weight discourages theft on a short park.  The RV Saftyman Cold Fire extinguisher is another matter.  You know what they say: girls will be girls and boys will be boys and thieves will get beat dam near to death.  Catching them is often the problem, however.  When you catch someone pilfering your house you should always detain them in such a manner that the arresting officer is really conflicted as to wether to rush the perp to jail or the hospital.  Just my thoughts on this.

John aka Mr. Mellow
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2008, 05:46:41 AM »

I have another fire extinguisher in the inside of the bus.  I think I would be able to use that extinguisher in the event of a battery issue.  Good point about considering the potential of a battery issue though!  I used RV antifreeze in my extinguisher.  I'm happy with that choice given my desire to put it in place and forget about it unless needed (and annual pressure checks!).

Have you gone through a winter with the antifreeze in the extinguisher unit yet?

Just curious if you had any problems since I had the RV antifreeze gel on me at about 10 below.

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Craig Shepard
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Brian Diehl
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2008, 06:38:16 AM »

Craig, I just bought the extinguisher.  So, I'm just following a suggestion from Jim that it should be fine.  I used full strength antifreeze and hope there will be no issues.  This winter will be the litmus test.
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Dallas
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2008, 06:57:59 AM »

Craig,
Freeze temperature and burst temperature of RV antifreeze are 2 different animals.
RV antifreeze, (Propylene Glycol), with a rating of -50°F has a freeze temp of around +10° It will turn mushy, but not expand.

I would be concerned about it's use in the fire extinguisher if it needed to be used at low temps, but unless you are planning to spend the entire winter full timing at Thunderbay, I don't think it would be too much of a problem.

Just my opinion, not to be taken for fact or gospel.
YMMV.
Professional Driver on a closed course.
Don't try this at home.
No warrantee expressed or implied.

Here's the website I got my facts from:
http://www.camco.net/faqwinterization.cfm

I have another fire extinguisher in the inside of the bus.  I think I would be able to use that extinguisher in the event of a battery issue.  Good point about considering the potential of a battery issue though!  I used RV antifreeze in my extinguisher.  I'm happy with that choice given my desire to put it in place and forget about it unless needed (and annual pressure checks!).


Have you gone through a winter with the antifreeze in the extinguisher unit yet?

Just curious if you had any problems since I had the RV antifreeze gel on me at about 10 below.


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JackConrad
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2008, 07:06:22 AM »

Brian,
   Another thing I would be concerned with if installing the extinhguisher in the battery compartment is the long term effects of gases from the batteries affecting the metal extinguisher. 
   I also use the RV antifreeze in all the systems I install for Jim. After discussing this with Jim, I feel that it is the best product that is readily available at a reasonable price. I am sure there may be a few that spend itme in their coaches at temperatures below +10 degrees, but not the ones that own the coaches I have installed systems in (including ours). I also inform the owners of the temperature limitatons of this solution.  Jack
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2008, 08:24:30 AM »

I think you all are talking about a fixed system so this does not apply, but I thought this was worth bringing up because many of us use a dry powder hand held ABC.

Quote
.......dry powder, which can clump when allowed to sit in one position for long periods.


Powdered extinguishers need to be "fluffed" at least once a year. Turn them upside down, place your ear on them and listen for the powder to drop completely. It should sound like sand slowly flowing. Also check for correct pressure and the discharge hose for obstructions (like mud dobbers nest, etc). On a side note when using a fire extinguisher discharge it at the base or source of the flame using a sweeping motion. It is surprising how many will shoot the flame, allowing the suppressant to overshoot the actual fire.
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2008, 08:36:27 AM »

Can I safely assume that any air pressure type water extinguisher can be charged with the cold fire solution?  Yes I am looking for a cheap way out!  John
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2008, 08:41:56 AM »

Laryn brings up a good point.

At work, they inspect all truck mounted fire extinguishers once a year.

They check the gauge for pressure, you can do that

They wipe it off and replace the safety seal, you can do that

They turn it up side down and tap on it with a rubber mallet to unclump the powder, you can do that

Cliff

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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2008, 09:34:53 AM »

I freeze proofed my Cold Fire with a powder that Jim sold me.  I think I put in enuf to freeze proof it down to ~-20F.  Why did you guys opt to use antifreeze?  Jim?

Thanks,

Jim
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van
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2008, 10:23:28 AM »

Is any one using halon in their rig ,and if so who supplies the system?

         Tanks.Van
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makemineatwostroke
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2008, 10:33:56 AM »

Is any one using halon in their rig ,and if so who supplies the system?

         Tanks.Van
 Anyone in there right mind would not use that in a bus if they value life if the fire don't get you the Halon will.At Stewart and Stevenson we had 2 die from testing it in a vehicle for the military
« Last Edit: August 28, 2008, 11:04:06 AM by makemineatwostroke » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2008, 10:35:57 AM »

If I remember correctly, new Halon systems were banned for civilian use back in the mid-90's due to its effects on the Ozone layer. Existing systems can be maintained, however.
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van
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2008, 10:43:01 AM »

Sorry to hear about that ,thats a terrible to hear that and would never consider using it inside the vehicle other than externals like engine compart ment fuel tank area
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2008, 10:57:09 AM »

Can I safely assume that any air pressure type water extinguisher can be charged with the cold fire solution?  Yes I am looking for a cheap way out!  John


I can't think of any reason it would not work.  We add the Cold Fire liquid to the water before pressurizing.  You would reduce the amount of water by the amount of Cold Fire you add.  When filling, be sure to add the water first!   If you add the Cold Fire first, it will suds up so much you will not be able to get all the water in.  Jack
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2008, 10:58:53 AM »

Years ago in the late 70's I worked for a fire extinguisher company.

You want to turn all of the power ones up at least once a year, more so when they are mounted on a vehicle.  The powder will settle on any of them.  It is best to turn one upside down and bump it against some ting or bounce it on the ground lightly when you need to use it to make sure the powder will be lose enough to come out.  Many times I have had to refill one that they tried to use the the pressure blow out and not much of the powder came out.

If you use any anti freeze make sure it has a little water in it.  Pure antifreeze will freeze warmer than you want it too.  

I can't say I have ever delt with "Cold Fire" stuff before.
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« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2008, 12:56:23 PM »

Hi Guys.  Sorry to be a bit slow to respond.  We are currently in Austria goofing around and seeing some wonderful scenery.

Lets discuss horizontal first since that was the original question.  It is fine to store the unit horizontally, IF the unit does not see freezing temperatures or is freeze proofed.  My concern is that fluid could enter the gage and freezing could damage it.

Next, lets talk about freeze proofing.  By far, the recommended method is to add potassium acetate.  However, it takes a lot of the powder and it is not cheap.  It is also not easy to find.  Ansel sells a freeze proof package using another potassium compound and it is well over $50 for the box of powder (takes a 2.5 gallon extinguisher down to  minus 72 as I recall). 

The second best is the RV antifreeze.  As I have told most people, if you download enough MSDA sheets you will find that some manufacturers state that it is mildly flammable.  My competitor recommends the RV antifreeze.  I have tested it for flammability using straight RV mixture and spraying a very fine spray into a weed burner and I can't see any issue that I would be concerned about.  As has been said, I would be a bit concerned about temperatures below minus 10, but I don't think there would be any damage to the extinguisher.

Next to the question about using an existing 2.5 gallon unit.  Almost all of them are intended to be used with water.  The nozzle has a straight bore.  The units I sell have an aeration nozzle.  That nozzle would be the best, but, the straight bore nozzle should work fine. Cold Fire is such a powerful suppression material and, as such, it is pretty forgiving of how it is applied.

Lastly, lets talk about Halon.  It was outlawed from MANUFACTURE in the United States over 10 years ago.  It is NOT illegal to sell it.  Any reputable racing supply company can sell hand held and mounted extinguishing systems.  They are quite expensive ($100 to $500 or more).  Up until last year, all NASCAR cars had Halon.  They now use Halon replacement (FE36) which is half as effective.  The only reason they changed as far as I can tell was to be “green”. 

I can't dispute the report of deaths, but the proper application (concentration) will not cause death.  Halon is very effective in low concentrations, but some applications/designs go far beyond needed concentrations and that can be dangerous. 

While Halon is one of the most effective extinguishing materials, it is only good in an enclosed environment.  It displaces the oxygen and as soon as air is re-introduced, the fire can reignite.

Sorry to be so wordy, but I wanted to cover most of the questions.

BTW, be aware that use of a dry powder extinguisher around aluminum or electrical components can really reek havoc with parts.  Dry powder extinguishers are not permitted anywhere near aircraft. If you have to use one, be sure to clean the area very carefully and use something like WD40 to finish the wash of the area.  If it were me, I would repeat the wash a week or two later to make sure you minimize the damage.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2008, 02:16:39 PM »

Depends upon the type of bottle, its contents and its construction.  Usually speaking, a fire extinguisher must be mounted in the upright (vertical) position.  The reason why is that, while the thing is full of agent, it is not completely full.  There is some pressurized air space. 

The pickup tube may be located just off the bottom of the bottle. This means that for whatever reason, you may create a static situation/environment where the necessary liguid agent is not where it is supposed to be as compared to being on a wall or in a closet.

This MAY create a situation where when the bottle is grabbed quickly to put out a fire, the liguid agent may NOT properly be forced up the thru the pickup tube.  Make any sense?  Crazy things happen with potentially corrosive agents, air space and time.  Your decision.

Perhaps there are special application fire extinguishers that are designed to be statically or portably mounted in any position.  This industry has certainly changed since I was a firefighter.  Perhaps others can steer you to a particular type of extinguisher that will work.  Smiley Smiley Smiley
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van
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« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2008, 02:55:30 PM »

Thanks jim for responding to my question about Halon,I always knew it's setbacks and dangers but was interested in engine compartment applications,thank you very much for clarifying .Sorry brian didn't mean to take your thread in another direction.

    curiosity never killed this cat
       Thanks again.
          Van
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Brian Diehl
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« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2008, 07:40:07 PM »

Excellent conversation guys! 

Jim, thanks for the feedback on all of our questions!

When do you come back from Europe?

Hope you are having a great time!

-Brian
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« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2008, 04:04:27 AM »

When we looked for a fire suppression system for the engine and generator compartments, we thought about Halon.  As I noted earlier, it is a fantastic fire suppression material, but should be used in an enclosed area.  These two areas have large air flow and that would work against the Halon technology.  The other issue I did not feel comfortable with, is that it would extinguish the fire very quickly and you would not even know you had a problem.  Thus, you would keep driving (or running the generator) while the conditions that caused the fire would still be present.  I guess that is what drove us to the crazy thought that we would develop our own  Grin.

One more thought about the RV antifreeze, I believe it will protect the components down to perhaps minus 40 degrees.  However, as pointed out, it may not flow very well if needed at say minus 10 or below.  That should not be an issue for most of us. In storage, the bays (and maybe the interior) can get below minus 10 in some climates.  However, when we use the coach in those temperatures (yes, some of us are crazy), the bays and interior should be well above the “slush” temperature of the fluid.

Brian, to answer your question, we are having a great time!  Our trip is from 8/8 to 9/8.  Our legs are about 2 inches shorter from all the walking and stair climbing  Cheesy.

I have been publishing a pretty detailed (is that a synonym for boring?) blog at:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2008, 09:51:37 AM »

Shouldn't every automatic fire system include an alarm so you know it's been activated?
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JackConrad
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« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2008, 10:33:18 AM »

Shouldn't every automatic fire system include an alarm so you know it's been activated?

Absolutely!  I cannot comment on others, but Jim's system has an audible and visual alarms.  There is a settable alarm that you set for the temp you want (this setting does not activate the fire suppression system, but activates a beeper and a yellow LED in the monitor panel). As an example, I have my settable generator compartment set at 140 degrees.  This lets me know if the generator compartment fans fail. 
   The preset alarm is set at 400 degrees and cannot be changed. This is the one that activates the fire suppression system.  This alarm has a beeper and a red LED in the monitor panel.  The settable alarm can be silenced by the operator. The preset can only be silenced by disconnecting the power to the system.  Jack
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« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2008, 01:09:10 PM »

Shouldn't every automatic fire system include an alarm so you know it's been activated?

I can tell you that I really wished I had placed a fire alarm  on the outside of my coach. It was parked in my driveway within 20 feet of my house when one of the electric heaters caught on fire.

 It was generally smoke for the first few hours I believe. Someone driving by in the early morning hours and spotted the smoke coming out of top. By the time the fire department arrived and broke out a rear window it flamed up and basically everything was lost. A loud external smoke/fire alarm would have alerted us in the house, or someone driving by. Unfortunately for me it was judged by the insurance investigators to be a total loss.

I am glad that I had purchased agreed on value some 15 years earlier and the insurance company (Progressive) paid me within one weeks time.

My advice is get a good alarm system as soon as possible.

Richard
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