Sometimes vehicles trying to escape from wildfires, need to drive through burning areas. This could cause the vehicles to catch fire and possibly cause injury or death to the passengers. Since motorhomes and camper vans often have an installed water tank, it is possible to set up an external sprinkling system. To improve survivability in a recreational vehicle driving to escape a forest fire, there are two separate strategies. One strategy is to reduce the risk of the recreational vehicle from catching on fire and the other is to reduce the extreme heat within the camper when a fire is raging outside. The misting system benefits both strategies. Water can absorb substantial heat energy due to its high evaporation at the boiling point of water. Water in the tank of the recreational vehicle can help absorb heat from the forest fire that would otherwise burn the occupants in the camper van. The use of misting nozzles mounted on the exterior of the vehicle can reduce the temperature of the vehicle to protect areas on the vehicle that are most susceptible to catching fire.
During the wildfire season in Oregon in 2020 our family was in a level two fire risk and we packed our camper and were waiting to evacuate. The fire was able to be contained, but I started thinking about developing a system with misting nozzles mounted along the edges of the roof and at vulnerable places like the wheel wells. To prepare for the next fire season I installed the first version of a misting system in a camper van project. One challenge is how long the system would protect the vehicle. A common lawn sprinkler nozzle uses about 15 gallons a minute and would only spray for about 90 seconds. But a misting nozzle (orifice) uses much less water per minute and has the potential to spray continuously for two or three hours. This gives you a lot more time to evacuate the worst parts of a wildfire. The system is connected to the lower drain of the water tank and it is activated by a switch inside the van. This system has NOT been tested in a wildfire, but I wanted to at least build a functional system and begin testing since we have a re-occurring risk of wildfire.
As an added benefit, the misting system would help to cool the camper van in hot weather. This could be a significant advantage, since cooling a camper van with a conventional air conditioning when off the power grid is a difficult energy storage challenge.
How the Misting System is Built
1. I began with a misting system like this with a pump, hose and nozzles. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KPG91DT/
2. The 120 volt adapter for the pump is not necessary since the pump is 12 volt, so I install this type of switch and wire the pump directly to the camper 12 volt system. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08CZ9BTNZ/?th=1
3. I then plumb it to the water tank, making sure that the camper water system can work autonomously to the misting water system.
4. On a ProMaster van the rear backup camera plastic housing is a convenient place to drill a small hole and run the misting hoses on the roof.
5. I anchor the misting hoses with this type of anchor on the roof and the undercarriage. You need to use a strong adhesive in addition to the peel and stick for under the vehicle. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08JD4RKCH/
General Guidelines for Wildfire Response
When a wildfire is approaching, it is important to follow the instructions of local authorities and evacuate the area as quickly and safely as possible. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are driving through a burning area, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of survival:
• Stay in your vehicle: In general, it is safer to stay in your vehicle during a wildfire than to try to escape on foot. The metal frame of the vehicle can offer some protection from the flames and heat.
• Close all windows and vents: This can help to prevent smoke and flames from entering the vehicle.
• Turn on headlights and hazard lights: This can help other drivers to see you and avoid colliding with your vehicle.
• Drive slowly and cautiously: Try to maintain a slow and steady speed, and avoid sudden movements or braking that could cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
• Park in a clear area: If you must stop, try to park in an area that is clear of vegetation and other combustible materials. Keep the engine running and the headlights and hazard lights on and be prepared to move quickly if the fire approaches.
It is important to note that the best way to avoid driving through a burning area during a wildfire is to evacuate the area as soon as possible. If you are in a wildfire-prone area, it is also a good idea to have an emergency evacuation plan in place and to stay informed about local weather and fire conditions.
CampMaker LLC assumes no responsibility or liability for information on this site. The information is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of effectiveness, safety, accuracy or usefulness.
References Regarding Wildfire Preparedness:
Six nozzles on the roof and one nozzle for each tire.
This amount of water protecting you from a fire for 2 or 3 hours.
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