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Thread: Fire Extinguishers - Preparing for a Valid Threat

  1. #1

    Fire Extinguishers - Preparing for a Valid Threat

    I'm putting this is general so hopefully others can learn from my misfortune. Many of us somewhat obsessively concern ourselves with being prepared for the threat of an armed encounter while ignoring, or, not registering, other, more likely, hazards. I'm guilty of that.

    Last Friday, while on the way home from a camping trip, my trailer caught fire.

    I had just entered a section of passing lane and pulled into the right lane when another car pulled alongside and told me my trailer was on fire. This was surprising to me because not more than ten miles previous I had stopped and checked tires, etc. I immediately pulled to the side and discovered the beginnings of a small fire in the left wheel well, above and behind the left rear tire. At that point the fire was so small that I was surprised the other motorist had seen it.

    The fire extinguisher was in the trailer, I didn't want to open the trailer door because that would serve to vent the fire if it was through the wheel well. My wife was calling 911 and another motorist had stopped and come running up, I asked if he had a fire extinguisher, no joy. At that point it became clear to me that I had to get the fire extinguisher from the trailer. We did so and shut the door. I expended the fire extinguisher and knocked the flames down a bit, but not out.

    By that time other folks had stopped to assist, including a member of the county fire department who, unfortunately, had no fire extinguisher. Another guy in a company truck came running up with a 5 pound extinguisher and began to expend it on the fire. I asked him to hold for a second and ran to open the door and reach inside to activate the switches to move the slide out - thinking that it would be more likely to put out the flame if the slide had caught also. The slide didn't work, I ran back around and told him to use the extinguisher. It knocked the flames down, but not out. The FD guy told me the trucks were ten minutes out.

    At that point I realized the camper was toast and that our CPAPS and 'travel' guns were inside the front of the camper. I went to enter the trailer, figuring I could crawl around the bed and get the guns and stuff, but my wife grabbed me and the black smoke pouring out also helped convince me it wasn't a good idea.

    The truck was still hitched to the trailer and I went forward and began to unhitch. Thankfully another guy who had stopped to help came up and said we better get these propane tanks disconnected - I'm not sure I would have thought of that soon enough. He disconnected them while I unhitched.

    The first picture below is right after I pulled the truck away, shut the tailgate and bed cover and returned to the truck to get my phone. Probably less than five minutes in.

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    No one was hurt, it was gratifying to us that so many strangers stopped to assist, reaffirming that most folks are good people. The fire guys, the trooper, and the deputies, were all professional and empathetic. I had helped train the trooper and one of the deputies before I retired, so we also had a chance to catch up a little in the three hours we were at the scene, wish it had been different circumstances.

    So, what did I learn:

    1) The supplied fire extinguisher is too small, as should be obvious to anyone with one iota of common sense.

    2) When towing, the extinguisher for the towed 'implement' should be in the towing vehicle.

    I've ordered a 20 pound extinguisher for the truck, five pounders for each of the other two vehicles we drive and two ten pounders for house and next trailer.

    3) We hadn't fire drilled the trailer - that could have been critical if the good Samaritan hadn't reminded me to get the tanks off.

    4) 'Standard' coverage of trailer contents was insufficient. It would have been possible to file a claim under our home owners policy, but that would have resulted in the insurance company tacking on a surcharge, raising our rates. We decided that wasn't a good deal so ate the loss. Our agent projected that upping content coverage to $5000.00 on the next railer will cost us about $7.00 a month, we'll be sure to do that.

    5) God is good. This could have been much worse, but he supplied folks along the way that helped.

    Hopefully this can serve as a lesson to others.
    Adding nothing to the conversation since 2015....

  2. #2
    Glad you and yours are unhurt.
    Thanks for posting.

  3. #3
    Likes Marmite Clusterfrack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Redneck wonderland
    Holy shit, Dan! I'm sorry that happened--but glad you and your wife are safe. Thanks for the detailed account.

    Did ammo from your guns cook off in the fire?
    "BJJ is sort of like nonconsensual yoga"
    "You don’t really graduate from certain problems or certain things… like you always have to work on trigger control and pulling the trigger straight. " --Ben Stoeger 1/24/2018

  4. #4
    Does Not Work For You TGS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Back in northern Virginia
    So sorry to hear this, Dan. Glad you're okay, and thanks for sharing your lessons learned with us.
    "Are you ready? Okay. Let's roll."- Last words of Todd Beamer

  5. #5
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Erie County, NY
    Wow. So glad you folks are safe! Sorry for the loss!

  6. #6
    Sad to see you lost your trailer, but glad to hear you're ok. Do you keep a spare CPAP machine?

    As for the propane, I had a conversation with the County Fireman that does hazard assessments for companies in our industrial area, and he said as long as the vent's are facing up, it's ok. As the pressure builds in the tank, the pressure vent expels gas, which typically ignites but is harmless except for what's right above it. It'll continue to look like a flamethrower until the gas is expended. If the tanks are properly secured, staying away from them might be a good idea.

    Maybe another FF can validate what I was told?

  7. #7
    one foot in the gulag... blues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Blue Ridge Mtns
    Wow...really glad that only property was lost. Your wife is a smart lady.
    There's nothing civil about this war

  8. #8
    I Demand Pie Lex Luthier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Pig's Eye, MN
    Yeah, that's an eye opener. So glad you and your wife are ok.
    To be adult is to be alone. - Jean Rostand

    "If this were 1910s Russia, the thugs would be the Bolsheviks softening up the people for the dictators." -anonymous Minneapolis political observer

  9. #9

    Fire Extinguishers - Preparing for a Valid Threat

    Wow. I may have missed it but were you able to determine what caused it? Overheated brakes?

    Which guns did you lose??

    Glad you’re all ok.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Super sorry to hear, Dan. Thanks for the reminders. I caught myself on fire today, but that kinda goes with my job.

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