CO Advice, Fire Safety

What alarms for caravans to install to ensure your site is fire and CO safe

With Camping and Caravanning Week just around the corner, and staycations in the UK continuing to be popular, it’s an ideal time for camping and caravan sites to ensure compliance with current UK fire and CO regulations.

There are on average 360 reported fires in caravans and mobile homes each year, due to their construction they offer little protection to stop the fire from spreading.

That’s why it’s vital as the owner or manager of a camping and/or caravanning site you have suitable detection equipment in place to alert holidaymakers to the first sign of danger.

This blog covers:

Conducting a fire risk assessment

Site owners or the responsible person must arrange for a competent person to conduct a fire risk assessment under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This assessment should pay particular attention to those at special risk, such as children, disabled people or other potentially vulnerable guests, and must include consideration of any dangerous substances liable to be on the premises.

Ensuring suitable fire safety in camping and caravanning sites

Alarms for caravans

A safe distance of at least six metres in spacing between caravans, tents and awnings helps prevent the spread of fire on site. Having quick go-to safety solutions for guests is also important to prepare for popular summer activities such as BBQs or campfires. Keep a bucket of water available, alongside fire extinguishers and blankets suitable for fires. All caravans and motorhomes must already carry a fire extinguisher, manufactured in accordance with BS EN3.

At the start of any holiday season, enlist the services of a qualified electrician and Gas Safe registered engineer to check over all fixtures within a caravan or motorhome to ensure they are safe to use.

Where should a smoke alarm be installed in a caravan, campervan or motorhome?

Alarms for caravans

FireAngel recommend fitting an optical smoke alarm that is certified to BS EN 14604: 2005 and testing alarms on a monthly basis.

Smoke alarms should be installed at least 300mm from light fittings and walls, ideally as central as possible in the room. If positioning your smoke alarm on the wall, the top of the detection element must be between 150mm and 300mm below the ceiling, and at least 300mm from any neighbouring wall.

Heat alarms should be installed at a distance no greater than 5.3m from the farthest wall, no greater than 5.3m from a door to any room in which a fire might start and no greater than 5.3m from the next heat or smoke alarm. Heat alarms should be sited at least 300mm from light fittings and walls. Heat alarms should not be fitted on a wall.

If guests are not using the caravan all year round, it is recommended to remove your smoke alarm from your vehicle for this period, as the battery may be affected by damp conditions. However, you must add fitting your alarm at the beginning of the camping season to your safety checklist.

What smoke alarm is best for caravans, campervans and motorhomes?

Under the NCC’s Manufacturer Approval Scheme, the requirements for the grade and category in all holiday caravans (and park homes) is Grade D1, category LD2.

FireAngel smoke and heat alarms that are suitable for use in a leisure vehicle, including caravans, motorhomes or campervans, include:

CO safety in caravans, campervans and motorhomes

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas invisible to the human senses and produced when fuel doesn’t burn properly, usually from badly fitted or poorly maintained appliances. CO can cause serious health complications and high levels of exposure can be fatal.

Where should a CO alarm be installed in a caravan?

Alarms for caravans

To ensure holidaymakers are alerted to a carbon monoxide leak, FireAngel recommended to fit an audible CO alarm certified to BS EN 50291 and test monthly. The National Caravan Council (NCC) also stipulates that all new caravans and motorhomes submitted for NCC certification should be fitted with a CO alarm as standard.

Caravans, campervans and motorhomes have additional CO risks due to the presence of other vehicles, engines, generators or barbecues. However, this does not change the basic guidance on installing a CO alarm.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in the same room as any fuel-burning appliance at a horizontal distance of between 1m–3m from the potential source.

Alarms should be located on the same side of a partition as the potential source and located at the high side of the room, if sloped ceilings are present. CO alarms should not be placed directly above a source of heat or steam, eg do not fit above a sink.

If on a wall the alarm should be close to the ceiling, at a height greater than any door or window and at least 150mm from the ceiling. If the alarm is on the ceiling it should be at least 300mm from any wall & any ceiling obstruction e.g. light fittings.

If the caravan has a single living space, one alarm is sufficient. However, any sleeping accommodation which is in a separate room from the fuel-burning appliance should also contain an alarm.

Do not install the CO alarm in areas which are excessively dusty, dirty or greasy as this can affect the performance of the sensor.

What CO alarm is best for caravans, campervans and motorhomes?

Alarms for caravans

FireAngel CO alarms suitable for use in a leisure vehicle, including caravans, or campervans, include:

If your site contains any gas or liquid fuel appliances, it’s vital to have adequate ventilation. Many caravans and motorhomes will have a gas fridge working all the time. Poor ventilation and badly adjusted appliances can lead to a build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide. Annual gas safety checks are also recommended with a local gas service specialist. A copy of the safety certificate must be made available to your tenants before they move in or within 28 days of the inspection date.

Observe the manufacturer’s instructions and manually test any alarms monthly. If an alarm becomes activated, ensure that everyone promptly vacates the caravan or motorhome. Isolate the gas supply in its external locker and only allow re-entry to a vehicle when it has been established that it is safe to do so.

Ensuring safe holidays in the great outdoors

Alongside installing smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors in leisure vehicles, it’s also essential to maintain the devices through regular cleaning. Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on the sensor, potentially hindering its performance. A vacuum cleaner or a soft brush can be used for this purpose.

It’s also important to replace smoke or heat alarms every 10 years and CO alarms every 7 years or as specified by the manufacturer. Keeping a detailed maintenance log helps ensure the device’s optimal performance but also provides evidence of adherence to regulations, which can be invaluable in case of accidents or disputes.

For further compliance advice on fire and CO, visit our Standards & Regulations Hub, or browse the full range of compliant FireAngel range of smoke, heat and CO alarms for caravans.