RV Fire Safety is not a focus of my blog.
However, I was sent a link to a news story about an RV fire that occurred not too long ago involving three fatalities and according to the report there was also a tire failure. Here is the link to the story. It was suggested by a reader that I use this as a topic for my blog.
The main reason I am writing about this tragedy, is to point out the importance of having plans in case of fire. You need a plan on what to do if there is a fire when you are parked and you need a different plan on what to do if the slides are in and you are traveling down the road.
Here is a new video from a friend Mac McCoy, that shows one possible plan that involves using the emergency escape window. Some of you may know him as "Mac the Fire Guy". Check his web site for where he is giving his seminar and fire demo and go see it.
One thing Mac mentions in his seminars on RV Fire Safety, when he covers the use of the escape window, is that some windows like the one in my Coachmen cannot be opened without breaking the window so you need to contact your RV manufacturer to confirm that a “Fire Drill” will not result in a broken, expensive window.
Now I want to make it clear that it is difficult for a tire failure by itself to start a fire. Once the tire looses enough air to “fail” you can no longer drive on that tire. The temperatures involved do not approach the self ignition point of rubber. According to this web site
the ignition temperature of rubber is 500°F to 600°F. The fact is that once rubber gets to above the 340°F softening or “melting” point, it loses its all its strength, falls apart under load and the tire would “blow out” or shred and scatter the pieces along the highway which would result in the vehicle stopping and the heat would no longer be generated as the failed tire is no longer carrying any load. Every week hundreds of tires fail somewhere yet there is no fire so the numbers support the degree of difficulty in having a tire self ignite.
It is possible that there are other ignition sources such as spark from damaged electrical wiring, grease, oil, fuel or even brake fluid and some of these might ignite if the RV is damaged and then there would be flame which could then ignite the tire. To put the temperatures in perspective, diesel has a flash point of 156°F, brake fluid 374°F, engine oil flash point is 300° to 440°F, wood catches fire at 374°F and fiberglass and many plastics seen in RV construction have ignition point temperatures from 190°F to 450°F. You will note that these temperatures are all lower than the ignition point of rubber.
Some other web sites with information on RV Fire safety; HERE and HERE is one on how to create a plan. RVBookstore has a DVD on RV Safety which is also available in electronic version
Bottom Line: RVs should not catch fire if there is a tire failure. Maybe the best advice I can give is that you can go a long way by simply preventing tire problems in the first place by being sure your tires are properly inflated all the times. That means knowing the inflation needed, checking the inflation at the start of every travel day and now you can have tools that can warn you if a tire starts loosing air while driving, so I strongly recommend having a TPMS. I have TPMS on my car and on my RV.