In essence, do capacitors act as potential fuses during surges and should one take this into consideration when trying to protect equipment behind them?
That's a novel question and a reasonable one. I don't think that I've heard it asked before.
While it is conceivable that a capacitor could be used in that way, it would be such a "soft" protection system that it would be liable to be of very little use.
Devices which are intended to provide protection are very well developed and usually reasonably well priced for what they do.
Fuses have exceedingly well defined current-time characteristics when used as intended.
Contactors, circuit breakers, earth leak / residual current devices all are generally designed and built to good tolerances.
Zeners are some what "soft kneed" but this is accepted as part of the overall low cost. MOVs varistors Tranzorbs gas-discharge tubes and the like stand in the noise spike gap with well defined accuracy and capability. Polyfuses are a very blunt and poorly defined tool but still serve a valuable role.
Lightning fast (literally if needed) clamps and interrupters are available, crowbars are as fast as you want to pay for.
Capacitors in power equipment are usually not a low cost part and already form part of a larger provide protection system by surge and spike suppressing and blocking and removing noise and sometimes providing a clamp that each a current trip may work against. Given all this it is better to let custom designed parts with guaranteed performance meet this requirement in a close to optimal manner, leaving the capacitors to also do their intended job well.
FWIW - my advice re electrolytic caps in large DC systems is that they last best when run very close to their maximum rated voltage. Unlike eg tantalum caps, they are highly resistance to occasional modest over voltage exposure.