My Burro is Gone, my Roo is damaged, guess I'm in a tent. - Page 4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-02-2010, 04:03 AM   #43
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Hi Robert,

Just to clarify, I wasn't meaning that you could speak to the cause of Mike's fire. But the previous poster had asked if there were [b]specific standards professionals use when they are putting the systems in the trailers - that's what I was referring to (I know what is used on boats, but am not familiar with campers).

Personally, I agree with your approach.

Raya
Raya:

Trailers made in Canada are made to [b]CSA Z240, according to http://www.crva.ca/assocn.asp and the sticker on our Escape trailer.

"Today, all RVs manufactured by our members carry a certification seal signifying compliance with the CAN/CSA Z240 Standard for Recreational Vehicles which covers four critical areas: [b]propane gas, [b]vehicular, [b]electrical and [b]plumbing. Manufacturers must meet CAN/CSA Z-240 Standard to be members of CRVA. Even manufacturers of components and accessories, including appliances, adhere to the strict guidelines which apply to their products. A CSA representative attends every CRVA meeting and reports on existing codes and possible changes. The association meets to discuss how these CSA changes will impact the RV industry from the manufacturing standpoint to the consumer's point of view."

I have not yet been able to read the standards themselves. I would assume that trailers made in USA would be built to equivalent standards.

Brian


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Old 05-02-2010, 07:52 AM   #44
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Raya:

We are familiar with careful investigations of automobile and aviation accidents aimed at understanding and prevention. Do we have an equivalent for our beloved trailers?

Brian
While NOT an arson investigator, per se, I have been the lead investigator, assisted lead investigators, or conducted the crime scene investigations in many fire scenes over the years. Unfortunately, no, to my knowledge there is no program specific to travel trailer fires. Trailer fires, in general, are difficult to investigate because they burn hot and fast, and leave little to investigate. Witnessess are often the best source of information on the point of origin of trailer fires, since frequently little is left but the frame and axle. In a mobile home fire, it's usually easier to determine cause and point of origin because they take a little longer to burn than a 16' fiberglass trailer... typically minutes rather than seconds. A mobile home can "flash over" in about three minutes and take as long as 20 minutes to burn to the ground. A 16' fiberglass trailer can be burned to the ground in three minutes. The longer a fire takes to burn, the more likely it is that a fire investigator can determine a point of origin and (perhaps) a cause.

Often times, we're left to conjecture about the cause, but we can only make an educated guess because we have a good idea where the point of origin is in a witnessed fire.

I'll hazard a sweeping comment tho... while RV fires are relatively uncommon compared to the number of RVs in use, most RV fires start in the refrigerator compartment... for various reasons... hence the recall of the Dometic refrigerators. They didn't fix the "problem" with the design, they merely make the refrigerator compartment more flame-resistant if the "problem" exhibits itself.

Your best insurance against fire is due diligence. Check your fittings regularly. Check your electrical connections in the refrigerator. We have all these automatic electronic things now that make lighting and using the "fridge" convenient... and few people ever check inside the compartment to make sure all is as it should be because they don't have to go outside, dig around in the refrigerator compartment, and manually light them. Since they're not forced to get into the refrigerator compartment any longer, they forget to look to see what's going on in that compartment. The gas detectors are nice technology, but they shouldn't be a substitute for regular inspections of all the systems in an RV , and will help keep you safe.

Remember, no one else cares about your safety like you do!

Roger
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:44 AM   #45
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[b]Conclusion: Part of propane refrigerator maintenance is clearing debris from the space near the flame.
That would be my sentiment as well. Let there be lessons learned! My Dometic 3-way in my Boler gets very hot, especially at the top of the fluid circuitry, and I'm sure that keeping the cooling capability clean is something wise to do!

This certainly has me heading for the air compressor to blow off the backside of my fridge.
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:24 PM   #46
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Here is a useful link to care of a propane fridge:

http://www.rbq.gouv.qc.ca/dirEnglish/gener..._propane_en.asp

Notice particularly:

Seasonal use

If a propane refrigerator is used for only a part of the year, it is essential that its burner be cleaned and, in some cases, adjusted before the appliance is first turned on again. Indeed, the burner and gas vent both can become obstructed with insect nests or rodents, rust debris, or some other materials, which will result in incomplete combustion of the fuel, thus causing the release of carbon monoxide.

Quality of combustion

Some visual inspections will enable you to verify that the burner is correctly adjusted or not. The following three inspection points apply to all refrigerators operating on propane gas:

* The flame produced by the burner must be completely blue; if any part of it is of a yellow or orange colour, your burner requires some adjustment.
* At all times, the base of the flame must appear as if it “rests” firmly on the burner’s head.
* No object or matter must obstruct the vent or the chimney.


Brian
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:52 PM   #47
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Here is a useful link to care of a propane fridge:

http://www.rbq.gouv.qc.ca/dirEnglish/gener..._propane_en.asp
Might this link be a good addition to the "Helpful-Links"?
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:28 PM   #48
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I have read this thread after being gone...In most of the fires involving this refrigeration system its not the fault of the propane per se. The fatal sequence of events goes like this...

(1) The lit propane increases the pressure of the hydrogen/ammonia in the mixture as a normal part of operation, then (2) in a boarder line tube fracture/weakened wall due to corroson a pin hole leak begins in the weakened steel wall of the condenser tubing.

(3) The refrigerant mixture escaping becomes the fuel and the accelerator fuel, (Note) the heat from a hydrogen fuel source rivals that of an acetylene source at plus 3000 degrees F.

The flash point is completely transparent, if it explodes its shock wave is 5 times faster than sound. If you hear it you have already been burned.

Most leaks are harmless in modern designs, most occur just sitting there harmlessly and never reach an ignition source.

Its one big reason one must never travel on propane using the refrigerator.

The ABC chemical extinguisher would do nothing on this fuel source...a Halon ( now banned) or a CO2 unit might dampen and cool it enough to keep it from re-lighting once smothered, as would water be better as heat must be subtracted not just oxygen... Its not safe to be near this type of fire without special equipment.

The ammonia could be rapidly released in a way that makes the burns from the fire pale in comparison when mixed with steam...or worse yet respiratory failure become a result of inhalation.

The point I am making is the ignition source was already there and operating properly, its the pressure behind these other fuel sources that was the problem, both the hydrogen and the ammonia oxidize too rapidly for human intervention to avoid in a trailer without much prior preparedness..

When inspecting the system prior to start up in an old system look for the tell tale signs of ammonia corrosion, or a bubbling of the "paint", pitting or a rough texture to the condenser coils.

I believe by the very rapid onset of the fire and the aggressiveness of its quick penetration that the leak occurred spontaneously in concurrence with the ignition source being a normal flame...Its very rare...there have been recalls on some models on this issue recently.

All these reasons are the WHY the unit is service in a static free pure nitrogen environment with a special automatic fire suppression system.

Are these systems safe?
Yes they are by the numbers...its when the unusual happens that all this stuff works against you so quickly...

Gasoline engines are safe mostly too, but a leaking tank and a wool sweater have burned down a few fueling stations or two as well...

As long as the physics are addressed your safer than driving on holiday per 100,000 cars traveling...fear that more.

I line my refrigerator installs with firewall fiberglass matte, it buys about 3 to 5 minuets time so the fire breaks out of the coach outer wall, not into the coach occupied space...the glass will fail, it only buys time.

A cheap $27.00 dollars U.S.

Hope this helps.

Happy Camping Again, Safe Trails Always.

Harry
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:35 PM   #49
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Hi Harry,

Nice to see you again and thanks for contributing to this thread.

Can you post a link or maybe a more specific name for the firewall fiberglass product you use? Or are you simply laying up your own?

Thanks,
Raya
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Old 05-07-2010, 12:06 AM   #50
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Hi Raya,

Nice to be back, I need to catch up my modification threads too...
I purchase on eBay as its cheaper than my wholesale supplier...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/AUTO-floors...s#ht_2094wt_928

As long as the listing is alive you can see it...Its always there...
Its simple stuff, I use high temp silicone to put it up as an adhesive as it takes the heat better than anything else under awful conditions... I use a 1/8 grooved trowel and press the matte up with the silver side out.

It buys time...insulation makes it possible to exit out as the heat is held in the rear compartment space until the flames bust out of the hull in that spot...The bulkheads that sandwich the unit in stay intact longer...I caught allot of flack from others on this but stuck to my guns...I had a fire 10 years ago in a customers unit due to a defect in the refrigerator, the heat shield held long enough for them to get out...The Airstream was a loss, insurance, theirs and mine paid off...mine settled as it was cheaper to do that and the owners insurance split their payout...then both sued the product manufacturer, who sued the sub contractor who made the product for them with their name on it.

It just makes sense...I wrap my Atwood water heaters with the same stuff, wrapping outside of the foam clam shell, foam burns real nice too, but not when wrapped.

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.

Harry

Quote:
Hi Harry,

Nice to see you again and thanks for contributing to this thread.

Can you post a link or maybe a more specific name for the firewall fiberglass product you use? Or are you simply laying up your own?

Thanks,
Raya
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:55 AM   #51
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So sorry for the disaster, but like everyone else, also glad you and your family are ok!
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:18 AM   #52
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Well we just found out the Roo is a total loss as well. So we have no camper at the moment but have started to look. Not sure which way we will end up going as we have five people and now three dogs. We have looked at everything from a popup to a class a motorhome. I suspect we will end up with a older Class C that needs some cosmetic updates but is mechanically sound, while I continue to look for the right replacement for the Burro.

Well now that the fire is behind us, we have completed the rescue/adoption of our two new beagles after months of waiting. So we are all enjoying the scamper of three dogs.

Mike


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