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Fire - How Would You Unhook?


Kevin H

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There is a topic in the HDT forum that shows a trailer that burned. I've thought a few times about what I would do if I saw my rig on fire. Would I drop the tailgate, release the hitch and go? The trailer would land on the truck bed but at least I'd get the truck away from the fire.

 

It would take a few precious seconds to access the control panel and lower the landing gear. Very dangerous with the rig on fire.

 

Or, would I just get away form the truck and let it all go?

 

What would you do? If you have been faced with this, what did you do?

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Well.. let's see.. how many things do we have in our rigs that explode? Batteries, propane tanks, propane lines snaked through every nook and cranny, fuel filled genny's, possibly extra fuel in storage compartments or the back of out TV's, oils/lubes/greases, then there is our TV's... Can I borrow a lawn chair and a beer?

 

Let it burn!!

 

What I DO though is keep a hard sided bin with my irreplaceables for a quick grab n dash. Insurance policy, titles, video walk-though on a memory stick, PC backup, family photos, extra credit card and ID, spare keys, etc etc.

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So many variables IMO. How advanced did the fire get before I noticed. Am I on a steep hill up or down. Can I get to the shoulder or turn off. But one thing that s for sure, no matter what I do, it will be wrong in so many people's eyes after the fact.

 

Something I learned when I was on the local vfd some 28-29 years ago is, to panic will always put you in the wrong position. So if you worry about the propane tanks exploding and are in a panic, you may very well over look your immediate surroundings and get run over. Now you have more than doubled the original problem.

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I don't think that there is a single answer that fits every situation in this any more than with most things. So much depends upon how far the fire has progressed and where it started. If there was a small fire in a brake drum, I'd think you would unhook? Near the propane, probably not. :unsure:

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Agreed. If a small fire I would try to fight it with my fire extinguisher just inside the door. If a little larger or the fire extinguisher did no good, then I would try to unhitch if I felt it was safe (properly if I had the time, quick and dirty if I felt time was short). If it was a raging fire when discovered, I'd grab my valuable papers in the glove box of the truck and retreat to a safe distance. I'd then call 911 for them to notify the local fire dept. Then I'd call my insurance agent. I'm omitting the expletives, and the invocation of deity, as this is a PG forum.

 

Chip

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I have a 6.0 Ford would definetly leave it hooked up

Best answer yet!..

 

If I had time I'd pull the lever on the hitch, hold the brake override and drive out, just let it hit the bed and slide off until the 7-way disconnected.

 

We rolled up an off ramp in Georgia last October and saw smoke coming out of a Range Rover on the side of the road. The guy was going nuts around it, trying to open the hood, smoke getting in his eyes and bare foot on the side of the road. We pulled over, I grabe the extinguisher from behind the seat, walked back, hosed the engine thru the grill and fender well where it had already melted. Flames went out but it was still smoldering. Turned to the guy and asked him if he had called 911- "No, I forgot to" Huh?? How do you forget to call the fire department when you have a fire, or how do you forget your shoes. By then other people had stopped and another guy started calming the fellow down. By the time the fire truck got there, the smoke had stopped and just about cleared.

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I would not risk my life or any other person's life. Small fire, maybe try to put it out. Otherwise I'd walk away, call 911. My truck isn't worth anymore than the trailer. Too many people have been injured trying to fight fires on their own. There's just nothing in the trailer or truck worth any risk.

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From my years in the fire department, I can tell you that by the time you see the fire/smoke in your mirror, or someone pulls up next to you and honks, waves, etc, that trailer will very likely be fully involved or very close to it. Even more so by the time you get pulled over and the apparent wind drops. That sucker will really take off. I doubt very seriously that anyone would have time to get landing gear down (assuming that the 12v or hydraulic system is still functional) and unhitch nicely.

 

Btw, I never saw an LP tank explode in an RV. I saw several of them 'pop off' and believe me it is impressive. Actually, we were trained to stay away from tires as they can eventually explode and do major damage to legs of firefighters. I did see several of those go off.

 

I went on many vehicle fires and unless there was some exceptional reason to go active with it (person trapped, extension, etc.), most often it would turn into a 'surround and drown' rather than try to save it.

 

Russ

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Well, I guess Phoenix and I kinda started this..... :(

 

If you are driving and have a brake/bearing that overheats enough to cause a fire....and that fire ignites your tire(s) you are pretty much done. You "might" knock it down with a foam extinguisher and if it is large enough (the extinguisher) keep it down. But that is unlikely. So I agree with Russ...you are likely to lose the trailer.

 

The reason I stated "Nascar fast" on the unhook on the previous thread is that is likely what will be needed. The fire may be pretty involved when you get to the point of deciding to unhook.

 

Danielle and I have actually practiced this. It does take awhile to get organized, find your stuff, etc. Longer than you think if you have not done a dry run. But we can do it in two minutes from the time of vehicle exit IF we are in practice. But that is without the panic of the REAL situation. This includes opening the Bigfoot door and dropping the legs enough. And unlatching the hitch. And getting out the tools to unlatch the hitch. People ask why my "saddlebag" boxes on top of the truck do not even HAVE locks on them. That is so I can immediately grab tools without any hesitation - and everything needed IS right there. While I'm doing that Danielle is lowering the legs. By the time I'm unhitched she has the trailer legs down. If she does not....I'm gone. :)

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In the world of boating there's the ditch bag. "What would you REALLY not want to lose if the boat sinks?" Aside from some survival nav/com stuff that would be handy in the raft the most important stuff is your papers and credit cards, as well as your computer or a backup drive with all your accounts etc etc. So, for that very reason I have a soft sided brief case which holds all of the above, plus a high quality flash lights, chargers etc etc. It rides in the truck. Everything in the trailer can burn baby burn, I won't miss a beat, I'll be in a rentacar in the Marriott tonight.

 

So with that in mind I'm with Jack. If it's a brake and SMALL, shoot a bottle at it. BTW, tires usually blow sideways. Airport CFR (that's crash, fire and rescue) are taught to approach aircraft overheated/burning brakes and tires from the front or rear.

 

If you can't get it under control REALLY quickly..... grab the murse and run baby run, Let it burn, truck and all, collect check and go to the RV show. It is NOT worth the risk.

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The only thing I'm unhooking is my seatbelt, far to many toxic fumes for my liking!

 

Very good point. But it does depend on how advanced the fire is when one finds it. IMO. One thing about the HDT pulling a 5er is the truck in general over powers and issues with the trailer. A 1 ton pickup on the other hand will notice even a small change in pulling resistance. A flat tire, or even two on a 5er behind a HDT is like the AC turning on. You dont notice it.

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It would be nice to be able to open the hitch and just drive out from under the fiver if you didn't have time to drop the landing legs, my uncle dis that many years ago with his pickup. He got some nasty bed dents but saved the truck.

 

Looking at a lot of hitches today it looks like driving out from under the fiver without the legs down might not work so well due to the chance of the pin hanging up on the hitch or a frame member and not letting the trailer fall off the truck.

 

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Something else to consider for fire fighting is your on-board fresh water tank. It would not be hard to add an external switch to turn on the pump and a quick to attach hose and nozzle. A hundred gallons of cold water will do wonders on a burning tire or even the back of a burning fridge if you get to it before the flames break into the rig's interior.

 

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We locked our pickup hitch when parked and away from the truck or asleep but unlocked it before driving. The hitch did not give us a good visual check to see if it was locked or unlocked. On the MDT the Binkley head was easy to look at and see the locked or unlocked condition so it stayed unlocked.

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Deezl, I don't know what your experience is but I can tell you from personal experience that you can be pulling and have a flat or even a blowout and not know it. It has happened to me more than once. I tow with a 3/4 ton pick-up. I also saw a guy in a 1 ton pulling a good size 5thW in front of me have a serious blowout on the right rear trailer tire and he never had a clue. I even tried to signal him but he was just going too fast and I wasn't going to pull that fast to catch up. I expect that he may have discovered it later because I am sure the second tire blew eventually. I would have seen it if my exit hadn't come up about 5 miles down the road.

 

I hope this hasn't happened to you but I think it is important that you and others be aware of it. I am sure that is why so many are using tire moniters like the pressure pro. The actual monetary value of my TT now is probably now more than 2 grand or I might be buying the tire moniters. (my trailer doesn't look like a junker and I like it)

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Deezl, I don't know what your experience is but I can tell you from personal experience that you can be pulling and have a flat or even a blowout and not know it. It has happened to me more than once. I tow with a 3/4 ton pick-up. I also saw a guy in a 1 ton pulling a good size 5thW in front of me have a serious blowout on the right rear trailer tire and he never had a clue. I even tried to signal him but he was just going too fast and I wasn't going to pull that fast to catch up. I expect that he may have discovered it later because I am sure the second tire blew eventually. I would have seen it if my exit hadn't come up about 5 miles down the road.

 

I hope this hasn't happened to you but I think it is important that you and others be aware of it. I am sure that is why so many are using tire moniters like the pressure pro. The actual monetary value of my TT now is probably now more than 2 grand or I might be buying the tire moniters. (my trailer doesn't look like a junker and I like it)

 

I guess I'm not sure where you are going with it other than to say that pickups can over power the flat too. ? Which I can agree on and include that it may depend on the sixe of the trailer in each case as well.

 

But just to lighten the mood a bit......a video. :D

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Not being critical just informative based on actual experience expecially for some of the new folks we have on the forum nowadays. I was surprised the 1st time it happened to me but it was not a blowout but a quick flat deflation that another driver hailed me about. By the time I was able to get it safely to the side the tire was completely ruined and almost the rim. I have noticed the flat or blowout quicker when pulling at lower speeds like 30-35 vs 55-60.

 

Thanks for the video link, I have actually seen that one before. Pretty stuning. I wish I knew how to post a link like that from youtube as I was following someone else's link and accidently came across one about an RV or Motorhome "mudbogging." It was pretty cool if you can find it.

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This one?

 

Crud that was funny. That poor tent trailer. I hope the guy in the pickup at the end had his dog elsewhere than the kennel in the back.

 

If you wish to post a youtube link, when at the video, right click the address and it will turn blue and a menu should drop down. Left click copy, then come here and in your reply, left click on the little icon above that looks like a chain link with a little green ring hanging on it. In that menu, right click inside the URL box and left click paste. Then hit submit or ok, and you are good to go.

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An interesting note in Arizona for instance if you are on a logging road and knowingly tear up the mud and make ruts, etc. If caught you are going to pay for the oaod to be repaired. Yep takes the fun out of some things!!!! :blink:

 

Hmmm,. Logging road and ruts......? So then the log trucks would have a heck of a bill at the end of the week. :)

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