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RV Fire Risks & Safety

While many RV fires can be avoided or reduced by regular maintenance, the vehicles we use for recreation and camping can themselves be fire risk factors. Fire is a leading cause of RV loss and incidents can occur when the unit is moving or parked. Ensure traveller safety by following these fire safety guidelines.

Causes & Caution

  • RV fires are often caused by wiring problems or electrical shortages and can be attributed to: bad batteries/poor battery shortage, wired/electrical appliances, refrigerators, generators, air conditioning, propane fittings and motor issues.
  • Be aware that electrical RV fires can still occur when all systems have been powered down and the RV is stored. Be conscious of any batteries in use.
  • Fire risks while your RV is on the move include dry wheel bearings or low pressure tires causing friction, chains dragging and making sparks, or engine fires due to fuel line issues or leaking fluids such as antifreeze.


Make time ahead of a trip to prepare and plan in case of a fire incident.

  • Service (or have serviced) your camping vehicle annually; check propane fittings at this time, and do a thorough RV inspection before each trip or leg of trip. Be aware of dirt build-up and possible wire damage from rodents.
  • If your RV is a trailer or a fifth wheel, check the lubrication of the axle hubs every season to prevent wheel lock up friction fires.
  • Keep handy a portable fire extinguisher, preferably in a visible, easily accessible location near an exit. These extinguishers discharge in roughly 8-10 seconds with a range of only 2–3.5 metres (6’–10’); as such, use them only to put out small, contained fires or to reduce a fire enough to allow escape.
  • Install and maintain at least one smoke alarm in your RV near where you sleep.
  • Install carbon monoxide and propane alarms (often combined) if your unit doesn’t have one.
  • Test your RV alarms (smoke/carbon monoxide/propane) weekly when your RV is in use. Ensure that all travellers know what the sound of each type of alarm means and what to do when they hear it.
  • Have at least two ways out of the RV – one in the front and one in the rear, if possible.
  • Test all escape windows, hatches and doors to make sure they open properly, and keep the escape routes clear of obstructions. Teach children how to open these in case of emergency when and if capable.
  • Ensure that the extension cord for connecting your RV to a campsite’s 120v electricity supply is in good condition and can handle the electrical load placed upon it. Replace any damaged cords right away.
  • Let the generator cool down before refuelling. When not in use, shut it off along with all fuel-burning appliances.
  • Shut off the propane at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving.
  • Turn on the fan above the kitchen burners when cooking and open a window to let fresh air in and carbon monoxide gases out.
  • Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything – GET OUT & STAY OUT!
  • Verify your cell phone coverage at each location and know your location when on the road.
  • Report any fire immediately to the campground operator (if applicable) and the local fire authorities. An RV fire is considered a vehicle fire and must be reported. For more information visit the BC government’s web page on reportable fire guidelines.