How to use a fire blanket – The Fire Blanket Guide
We’ve all seen a fire blanket, whether it’s in the office kitchen or in a residential building. They are usually bright red and mounted on a wall close to a cooking appliance. In this article, we’ll look at what the fire blanket is, how it works and how to use a fire blanket correctly, step by step.
What is a fire blanket?
The fire blanket is a simple but effective tool for extinguishing fires. Made of high-quality, non-flammable materials, the humble fire blanket can withstand blazing fires of up to 482 °C (900 °F). Fire blankets can be classed as heavy-duty or light-duty depending on their size and use.
- Light-duty fire blankets are smaller and they are more suitable for use in a domestic setting. A good example would be the kitchen fire blankets. They are great for tackling small fires where oil or cooking fat is burning, as well as for extinguishing personal clothing that’s on fire.
- Heavy-duty fire blankets are designed for use in an industrial setting where the fire hazard is related to the handling of molten materials (rock or metal that has been heated until it turns into a liquid)
As an essential part of your fire safety equipment, fire blankets should be placed in close proximity with the identified fire hazard, whether it is cooking equipment or heavy machinery pouring liquid steel.
How does a fire blanket work?
The fire blanket is used to smother a fire. As you place the fire blanket over the flames, it prevents the fire from accessing the oxygen it needs to burn. By doing so, it breaks the fire triangle and extinguishes the fire before it has the chance to spread.
However, it should be noted that the fire blanket is only suitable for handling small fires that are just starting. Never attempt to extinguish a large fire using a fire blanket. The safer solution is to evacuate the building immediately and call the fire department.
How to use a fire blanket
The fire blanket may feel a little less intimidating to use than a fire extinguisher if you haven’t had enough fire safety training to feel confident with choosing the right type of fire extinguisher and determining whether it’s suitable for use in the fire class you are dealing with.
That being said, it’s good to familiarise yourself with the steps of using a fire blanket correctly, so that you know how to react in an emergency situation. The fire blanket can be used to extinguish two types of fire: a small cooking fire and a personal clothing fire. Let’s take a look at how to use it in each situation!
How to use a fire blanket on a small cooking fire
If a cooking pot or an oil container catches fire and the flames are still small, you could try to extinguish the fire using a fire blanket by following the steps:
- Find the tapes hanging from the fire blanket and pull them to release the fire blanket
- Hold the fire blanket in a way that its edges cover your hands – you don’t want to burn yourself while trying to extinguish the fire
- Cover the flames with the fire blanket. Don’t throw the blanket at the fire. Do this step calmly and gently starting from the side closest to you and moving to the opposite side.
- If the heat source (stove, cooker or hob) is still on, turn it off
- Leave the blanket in place for at least 15 minutes to allow for the temperature to go down
- Call the emergency services on 999
Make sure you never attempt to move the burning liquid and if the flames are too big, don’t use the fire blanket; just get to safety and call for help.
After you place the fire blanket over the fire, don’t panic if you see smoke coming through it – this is normal. It’s only a cause of concern if you see flames coming from either side of the fire blanket and spreading. Then you should evacuate immediately.
How to use a fire blanket on a personal clothing fire
In case a person’s clothes catch fire, whether it’s your own clothing or someone else’s, the fire blanket can help you extinguish the flames quickly and effectively. Here’s what you need to do:
- Release the fire blanket from its storage by pulling the tapes hanging on the sides
- Wrap the person whose clothes are burning with the fire blanket. Remember to protect your hands with the edges of the fire blanket when you do this
- Stop, drop and roll – This is a common fire safety technique used in personal clothing fire situations. The person needs to stop moving, drop to the ground and start rolling on the floor
- Seek medical help – Even if you have managed to stop the fire before the person sustains any serious harm, you still need to call 999 and get them checked out by the EMTs
When a person is set on fire it is a very traumatic experience but you must always keep calm to ensure that the fire is extinguished fast and any harm is kept to a minimum.
Fire Blanket Requirements in the UK
When you buy a fire blanket, you must make sure that it’s compliant with the BS EN 1869:1997 – the British Standard for fire blankets. This BS EN certification demonstrates that the fire blanket is compliant with the legal requirements in the UK and that it’s safe to use.
In terms of maintenance, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) recommends that you have your fire blanket inspected by a fire safety professional annually to ensure it’s maintained correctly and that it is still fit for use.
There is no specific legal requirement as to how often you need to replace your fire blanket. You should check the manufacturer’s guidance to determine the life expectancy of the product. If you can’t find this information, it’s recommended that you have the fire blanket replaced every seven years.
Once you have used a fire blanket, it cannot be reused. You have to dispose of it and buy a replacement as soon as possible.