I had a similar fuel pump failure/tank gasket failue problem in a Peugeot 406 (Darn sight more comfotable ride than an RV!).
Recognizing the safety hazard, I had the car towed to a dealer, where the prodedure was first ro remove the fuel tank from the vehicle, then peform the work on the isolated tank in a safe area.
Fuel pumps are buried in the fuel tank because the liquid fuel cools the tiny overheating motor. If you are in the habit of running the tank dry, the motor will eventually overheat and burn out. I suspect the original design of your RV vehicle chassis didn't take into account all the extra electrics that would be piled on - RV's are usually adapted commercial vehicle chassis.
I had a similar problem in my Suburban. Dropping the fuel tank seemed easy enough. But to re-install it, it became evident that the filler hoses and the delivery lines have to be connected with the tank nearly in the installed position. This leaves very little room or line of sight to ensure these lines are installed correctly. My filler hose was not on all the way and worked itself loose and was discovered later at the gas station with fuel all underneath.
I suspect the same is true for most all vehicles with gas tanks that drop from the underside.
I had a Dodge Caravan that has the fuel pump in the gas tank. The first time I replaced the pump I dropped the tank. The second time I rolled up the carpet, cut an access hole in the floor. When I was done an aluminum plate was used to cover the hole.
Fuel pump cooling is an added attraction to mounting it submerged in liquid hydrocarbon. You also get the benefit of ensuring pump priming and you can add other reliability issues like putting the fuel level sender on it as well. Doesn't mean its smart to be there in terms of maintenance and reliability. Just cheaper and seems to be a uncoordinated conspiracy by all the vehicle manufacturers.
On the issue of the fuel filter over the 12 V connection bus, I'd take off my service/support hat and put on my design hat and reroute the fuel lines to an accessible and fuel-safe smart spot and refit with appropriate couplers. If you've already rebuilt the new RV several, how 'bout once and for all for the built-in firebug. And here I sit comfortably numb in the monday morning quarterback lounge.
Regarding the spark hazard, it runs in my mind that when I've replaced fuel filters before (on two different GM passenger vehicles, filter not in the tank), the instructions always included a step to disconnect the battery? As you say, that would remove the spark hazard.
And, the genius monkeys that designed the model 1500 Dodge pickup also put a quirky check valve in there with the filter, gauge sender and pump unit... mine [1999 model] leaks back after shutdown. you can hear it bubbling on a quiet day. BUT, the 1998 model had a pressure switch on the startup relay so the fuel pump would run until adequate line pressure was achieved. But, to SAVE MONEY for 1999, they dumped the pressure switch and opted for a 2-second timer relay. Problem is that it needs 4-6 seconds to fully charge the empty line so I must cycle the key 3 times THEN crank the starter... or the engine won't start. P I T A ! ! Anyone know a quick fix?
Constitution man, one cheap and quick fix is to add a manual pushbutton to allow for running the pump prior to cranking the engine. But you would need to use a button good for the load, and be sure to protect the wires from damage that could cause a short circuit. And use a momentary switch so that the pump does not stay running if the engine dies for whatever reason.
About the filter near the power distribution block: ABSOLUTELY be sure to disconnect the battery that feeds that block prior to any work in the area. I would bypas that filter and install an aftermarket filter in a location that was easier to work on.
For the fuel lines that need to be connected above the tank, next time disconnect them at the other end of the rubber tube, which is probably more accessable.
I've had some intersting experiences with fuel systems on vehicles.
The 1987 Ford F150 I bought used a few years back has two gas tanks, each with a pump built in. One of the pumps leaks when it runs - I suspect the gasket, but since the tank needs to be removed (or the truck bed....) to get at the pump, I haven't bothered yet, I just use the other tank (there's a switch to select which tank feeds the engine, and the switch operates one or the other fuel pump.
Then, the 1978 Jeep CJ-5 which I use to plow my driveway (and that's all, because there's no way I could get that thing road-legal any more) has a bug (or feature; I don't know which) in the Carburetor that allows the float bowl to drain when the engine isn't running. I suspect it drains into the intake manifold, but I never could figure it out - rebuilt the carb and that didn't solve the problem, which leads me to the "feature, not a bug" opinion. And thinking that it might be leaking back down through the fuel pump was not solved with a new fuel pump (mechanical). Anyway, if you park the jeep and come back a day or so later, you have to crank the engine for several minutes in order to get the float bowl filled and the carb woking properly to start. This is hard on the battery (which also runs the plow lift pump, so I prefer to be gentle with the battery) and the starter motor. I've been using starting fluid (ether) to start the engine; once the engine gets up to speed, the mechanical fuel pump quickly fills the float bowl, but ether is hard on the engine and not recommended as a general practice. I'm about to install an in-line electric fuel pump; that should allow me to fill the float bowl before engaging the starter.
And then there's the problem of using 10% ethanol gasoline on this old equipment which may have seals and other rubber parts which the ethanol attacks. The manual priming bulbs on my lawnmowers, etc. are some sort of rubber which doesn't like ethanol; they give out after a few years. After a few go-rounds of this, the other sealing parts start to go and the lawnmower makes the final trip to the dump....
If ethanol is eating your weedwhacker, just go buy some non-ox fuel. even if it's 50 cent's a gallon more... and you burn 30 gallons all summer, that's 15 bucks to keep things running. I run non-ox in my 1971 snowblower, my 1990 motorcycle, and ALL my mowers regardless of age. it's a damn bargain, period. Your state fuel retailers association has a list published somewhere online that'll tell you where all the non-ox gas can be purchased.
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