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Caravan / RV Fire Safety

Fire Alarm


Smoke Alarms / Fire Blankets / Fire Extinguishers / Campfire Safety / Portable BBQ Safety

Fire Safety Precautions

There are various ways to protect yourself and your property from fire and smoke.  Devices such as smoke alarms, fire blankets and fire extinguishers are available.  All buildings are required to maintain a plan of action to be taken in the event of a fire.  Your caravan or RV should be no different.  Make sure you discuss and have an evacuation plan. 

Always remember not to place your life or the lives of others at risk by staying in the vicinity of the fire.

  • Carry a comprehensive First Aid Kit *
  • Carry a fire extinguisher
  • When towing your RV the gas should always be turned off
  • Do not carry jerry cans or LPG gas bottles in the back of your tow vehicle
  • Keep LPG gas cylinders and flammable liquids outside your RV
  • Before going to sleep at night it is recommended you turn off all appliances and ensure nothing is blocking the vent in the exit door
  • If you travel regularly on rough roads the gas cylinders, gas lines, pipes and fittings should be checked regularly
  • Empty fuel from your generator during transit
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children
  • Extinguish campfires with plenty of water
  • Do not use ‘naked’ lights such as candles in your RV or tent

* A comprehensive range of first aid kits are available from St John Ambulance.


Smoke Alarms

Why does the slightest whiff of cooking smells set off my caravan smoke alarm and is there a way around this?

First and foremost – Never take the battery out of a smoke alarm to render it inoperative.  Whilst it may seem like stating the obvious, smoke alarms are devices that detect smoke and sound an alarm.  They protect people and property.  Removing the battery from your smoke alarm exposes you and your family to danger. There are other ways around your smoke alarm sounding at the slightest whiff of cooking toast.  If this is an annoyance for you, ensure you purchase an alarm with alternate ways around this situation.  More on this later.

When you go to sleep your sense of smell also goes to sleep and if there is a fire, toxic fumes may overcome you before you wake up.  Don’t confuse ‘smoke alarms’ with ‘smoke detectors’ that are generally used in commercial premises.

Smoke alarms in RV’s, motorhomes, camper trailer and caravans are usually a stand alone device operated by a 9 volt battery.  The smoke alarm should comply with Australian Standards.

Caravan Fire Alarm

Features may include a test button, low battery indicator and battery missing indicator.  Some smoke alarms come with a ‘hush’ button which is a temporary delay to stop nuisance alarms.  For example, as discussed earlier, when cooking toast in an RV it will invariably set off an alarm so the hush button may be pressed to temporarily deactivate the alarm for about 10 minutes allowing you to get your toast cooking done without having to remove batteries and thus maintaining safety. 

What types of smoke alarms are there for caravans / RV's?

Ionisation Smoke Alarms

These alarms ‘smell’ smoke and detect invisible particles of combustion eg: cooking toast.  They activate very quickly for little visible smoke and fast flaming fires.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms

These types detect ‘visible’ particles of combustion and are very responsive to smouldering fire such as smouldering cigarette smoke as well as dense smoke from furnishings or from overheated PVC wiring. 

They can be prone to nuisance alarms from insects and dust.

Fire blankets

Take time to consider where best to hang a fire blanket (fire blankets usually come in a plastic carry case with eyelets for easy hanging).  The position you choose should be easily accessible in the event of an emergency.  Having one close to the kitchen and near an exit is recommended. 

Fire blankets must measure no less than 1 metre by 1 metre and be Australian Standard approved.  These blankets are ideal to wrap around people if their clothes catch alight and for cooking fat fires.  The way they work is to smother the fire (starve it of oxygen).  Remember to keep your face and hands protected behind it. 

Fire Blanket

Fire Extinguishers

Dry chemical powder type fire extinguishers are suitable for most household fires and are effective against most small fires.  Fire extinguishers should be Australian Standard approved.

Before using a fire extinguisher you should know if it is suitable for the flammable material involved in the fire and if electricity is involved in the fire that the extinguishing agent is non-conducting.  Make yourself familiar with instructions on how to use it.


Fire safety services recommend the fire extinguisher be shaken occasionally to prevent the powder settling.  They also recommend you have the fire extinguisher serviced every six months and pressure tested every 5 years by a qualified person.

The Fire & Rescue Services in your state or territory can be contacted for further information.

The best place for the fire extinguisher in your caravan is where it is easily accessible in the event of an emergency.  Having one close to the kitchen and near an exit is recommended.

Familiarise yourself with how to operate your fire extinguisher.  The last thing you want to be doing is grabbing for your glasses so you can read the instructions on how it works.

Campfire Safety

When there is high fire danger, fire restrictions can be imposed and camp fires should not be lit where there is a fire safety ban.

How can I prevent campfire burns?

When lighting fires an accelerant should not be used.

Children should be supervised at all times around campfires and things such as fuel, lighters and matches placed out of their reach.  Ensure children do not wear flammable clothing.

Camp Fire Cooking

When manipulating coals for camp oven cooking, it is advisable to use a long handled shovel.  This will enable you to keep your body and hands far enough away from the fire (and smoke).

Do not use sand and dirt to extinguish the fire as they can camouflage the hot coals and retain the heat.  Extinguish the fire using water. Each year a number of people, particularly children, are treated for severe campfire related burns.  A number of those burns resulted the morning after a campfire when children have stepped on the hot coals.

Portable BBQ Safety

If you travel with a portable BBQ it is recommended you ensure the gas pressure of any gas cylinder is tested regularly.  Also maintain and check the condition of the hoses and connections.  Keep any flammable liquids away from the BBQ.

When in use, site the BBQ on firm level ground and away from anything flammable.  Always supervise children around the BBQ area and ensure matches and lighters are out of reach.  Do not place hot plates on to the ground, at least not until they have cooled, as it easy for someone to step on them.



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