RV Fires and How to Avoid Them

What causes most fires in RVs? This is a serious question when you consider that there are about 20,000 RV fires each year! (This is according to the National Fire Protection Association.) Why so many? Because there are many things that can cause a fire in an RV, motorhome, and camper. As to which one is the most common, that depends on a variety of factors. The biggest one is whether you’re driving your RV or have it parked. There’s a lot of vital information about what causes RV fires and how to prevent them, which we’re happy to pass on to RV and motorhome owners.

RV Fires on the Road

Have you ever seen an RV on fire by the side of the highway or road? As unfortunate as this might sound, it’s not an uncommon site. There are a handful of things that can cause a travel trailer fire while the owner is driving. Here are some of the most common reasons why these blazes happen:

  • Diesel engines pulling a heavy RV or trailer create a lot of heat. This can cause a fire if your RV’s engine compartment isn’t cleaned. Engine fires like this spread quickly. By the time you pull over to the shoulder, you might have minutes to get out before your whole RV is in flames. Have your engine checked out by a professional mechanic once a year, and add an engine fire suppression system. This can help put out the blaze once a certain temperature is reached.
  • When is the last time you checked your RVs fuel and fluid lines? One leak can lead to an engine fire that destroys your motorhome in minutes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure here. Roughly translated, have a mechanic do a walk through on your rig once a year.
  • Your wheel bearings might be another part of your RV that you’ve ignored. If so, you’re playing a dangerous game. Dry wheel bearings start RV fires. With those wheels spinning at highway speeds, you get metal-on-metal friction. This creates heat and sparks that can build into a raging blaze. The solution is to get regular service at your RV dealer or repair shop with experience working on these vehicles.
  • Flat or low tires often cause drivers to lose control of their RVs. Driving on them even for short distances can cause fires from the sparks flying off the rim. How do you avoid this? By NOT driving on bad tires. Once a year, you should take your RV to a tire dealer and have them take a look at your wheels.
  • Forgetting to release the parking brake in any vehicle can cause problems. When it’s an RV, you could cause all kinds of fire damage. First, to your RV, which is the purpose of this blog. You also can catch the surrounding area on fire. Think about it. If you’re RV is throwing sparks and those tiny flaming chunks of molten metal can land in a field of dry grass or the woods. Don’t cause that kind of destruction. Check your parking brake part of your pre-driving checklist.

These are just some of the things that can cause RV fires while you’re driving. If there’s one overarching theme here, it’s that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You should inspect your RV before taking it out on the road. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, have a professional RV inspector look at it. Sure, it will cost you a little money, but it’s an investment that’s helps keep you, your family, and your vehicle safe.

RV Fires While You’re Parked

So, you made it to the RV campground in one piece. Great! But you’re not out of the woods yet. A lot of RV fires happen when a motorhome or trailer is parked. Here are some of the most common causes of these blazes:

  • Refrigerators. Yes, refrigerators. These appliances are one of the biggest causes of RV fires. Usually it’s a matter of electric shorts and bad wiring. Some brands and models have been recalled because of it. If you haven’t checked to see if your fridge is on that list, you probably should very soon. If yours is on that list, get rid of it and get a newer one. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Other electric shorts and bad wiring are just as dangerous as a recalled fridge. We’re talking about generators, water heaters, and air conditioners here, as well as many other appliances. Make sure to have all the wiring and connections in your motorhome and engine inspected. Replace any bad connections immediately so they don’t become a problem.
  • Unattended fires can cause your RV to go up like a book of matches. Whether it’s cooking out doors or a bonfire gone wrong, most of the time the cause is that the fire is made too close to the motorhome. Before you fire up that grill, make sure you’re not cooking right underneath your RV awning. RV owners also need to have their propane furnaces, grills, and other heat inspected for leaks. This should be done on an annual basis. Most owners have this done before they put their RV in storage and after.
  • Would you believe that animal nests built inside RVs is a cause of fires? It’s true. When RVs are parked outdoors for long periods of time, birds, mice, and other critters have been known to build nests inside the vehicles. Unfortunately, these nests are often built near equipment that generates heat. This heat builds up and can cause dry nest material to catch fire. This is why RV experts recommend having your vehicle stored professionally and inspected on a regular basis.

So, what’s the lesson here? What you can’t see might be a fire hazard. So many things can cause a fire, so it’s important to have everything inspected once a year. Seriously, it’s your responsibility to make sure your recreational vehicle is safe to drive BEFORE you take it anywhere.

Something Else About RV Fires

You have to keep your vehicle’s alarm systems current. Talk to any RV inspector and they’ll tell you that. They’ve seen cases where some RV owners didn’t maintain their smoke, CO2, or gas alarms. These devices didn’t do those people any good with dead batteries our outdated technology. The advice here is simple: make sure your alarms are up to date, connected, and have fresh batteries before you head out on your next RVing adventure.

RV Life is Fun, Too!

RV fires are a serious topic and we’re happy to add to that discussion. If we had a choice, we’d rather discuss how we help RV owners enjoy the time they spend in their vehicles. Our Signal Connect division does this by delivering DIRECTV to all type of recreational vehicles. After a long day on the road, many people like to kick back with their favorite TV shows. There’s no better way to do this in an RV than having DIRECTV. Signal Connect’s reps help RV owners across the country enjoy DIRECTV by using all of these resources:

  • We’re an online electronics retailer that carries a full line of portable satellite domes.
  • Signal Connect also carries DIRECTV receivers, cables, and other satellite TV equipment.
  • Signal Connect works with a network of professional DIRECTV installers with RV experience.
  • John can help you choose the best DIRECTV viewing package for your needs.
  • He’ll also quickly activate your account after the installation.

We know that installing DIRECTV in your RV is a big decision to make. Our reps aren’t trying to rush anyone into doing this right away. They’d love to answer your questions. If you’re thinking about getting this service, call Signal Connect and talk to them about it. talk. Feel free to give them a call at 888-233-7563, or fill out the form below. A Signal Connect expert will contact in no less than one business day.

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.