Fire blankets, often called fire protection blankets, are available in many households or businesses. Contrary to popular belief, the fire blanket is not suitable for the effective and efficient fighting of cooking oil and cooking fat fires. There are also major concerns about its suitability for fires involving people. In our new blog article, you will find out what should be considered in general when using a fire blanket, when it makes sense to use a fire blanket and when it is better not to do.
Fire blanket - Basic information
Fire blankets are made of a fire-resistant material, often glass fibre fabric. A fire blanket can be used to smother small incipient fires by depriving them of oxygen. Fire blankets must comply with DIN EN 1869. Fire blankets are now available in DIY stores, furniture stores and, of course, online. Fire blankets cost between 8 and 20 euros. They are available in different sizes; for incipient fires, sizes from approx. 100 x 100 cm to approx. 160 x 180 cm are usually used. Fire blankets are intended for one-time use only; after use, they must be disposed of.
The fire blanket itself is stored in a signal red storage bag or box. The instructions for use can be found on the bag or in the box. The storage bags usually have one or two eyelets so that the fire blanket can be hung up directly in the vicinity of the danger and is thus quickly ready for use.
Tip: When selecting a suitable fire blanket, choose a size that can completely cover the potential source of the fire; no oxygen should be able to reach the source of the fire. It is also advisable to choose only fire blankets that have extra protection for the hands.
Correct use of a fire blanket
- Pull the fire blanket (by the straps) out of the packaging.
- Put your hands in the corner pockets of the fire blanket or turn the corners of the fire blanket around your hands.
- Hold up the unfolded fire blanket with arms outstretched (protecting your own body) and walk towards the source of the fire.
- Quickly place the fire blanket on the source of the fire. The fire blanket should be pressed down briefly all around so that the source of the fire is sealed airtight.
- Leave the extinguishing blanket on the source of the fire, as re-ignition may occur. Call the fire brigade or wait until the source of the fire has cooled down before removing and disposing of the fire blanket.
Fire blankets in the company
Companies that still have extinguishing blankets in their fire protection concept should check to what extent they can be replaced. Fire blankets are NOT suitable for extinguishing cooking oils or fats, nor for personal fires. If you still have fire blankets in use for this purpose in your company, please contact your fire safety officer or get in touch with us. There are suitable fire extinguishers for these areas, which also correspond to the "state of the art". The number and type of fire extinguishers are regulated in the risk assessment.
Extinguishing blanket quality
Fire blankets must comply with DIN EN 1869. On extinguishing blankets there is often a note that they can be used for cooking fat fires or personal fires. Although the fire blankets are made of a fire-resistant material, tests have shown that the quality of the material varies and thus use can be dangerous. Unfortunately, it is only possible to determine whether the quality was sufficient after the fire blanket has been used. Seen from the outside, no differences in quality are visible to the layman. This can be particularly problematic when extinguishing fires involving cooking oil or cooking fat.
Problem with fires of cooking oil and cooking fat
If the cooking oil or cooking fat gets too hot in the pot in the kitchen, this leads to spontaneous combustion. The flash point of rapeseed oil, for example, is about 230 degrees. As a result, temperatures of up to 300 degrees quickly develop and very dangerous ignition can occur outside the pot. The problem with these temperatures is the following:
- The fat or oil in the pot starts to burn.
- The extinguishing blanket is placed airtight over the pot.
- If the extinguishing blanket is of poor quality, the poisonous gases from the pot escape through the blanket to the surface.
- These poisonous gases ignite due to the high temperature above the pot, i.e. on the outside of the fire blanket.
- A high jet of flame is produced and the source of the fire increases. In such a situation, the only thing that helps is a grease fire extinguisher or calling the fire brigade and getting others and yourself out of the danger zone.
Tip: For this reason, we recommend that private households do not use extinguishing blankets for fires with cooking oil or cooking fat. Only a grease fire extinguisher can help! The fat fire extinguisher causes more mess, but the fire can be extinguished specifically and very quickly, which ultimately minimises the damage. Do NOT use water to extinguish the fire! When extinguishing with the grease fire extinguisher, the extinguishing gun should be held as close as possible to the pot in order to directly eliminate the source of the fire.
By the way: In companies, the grease fire extinguisher is mandatory for kitchens, a fire blanket is not permitted!
Fire blanket for personal fires - better not!
Fortunately, fires involving people are rare, but you should still think about what to do in such a situation. Unfortunately, you still see the information on the packaging of fire blankets that they are also suitable for personal fires. People who are on fire run through the area in panic, already not easy to get the person wrapped in the fire blanket. In addition, the fire blanket has to be pressed down to prevent oxygen from reaching the flames. When the fire blanket is pressed on, burning material is pressed onto the skin and leads to serious burn injuries. A fire extinguisher (regardless of the extinguishing agent) is always better than a fire blanket for personal fires. When handling a fire extinguisher, the following should be observed:
- Keep a minimum distance of about 2 m from the burning person.
- Do NOT spray the face of the burning person with the extinguishing agent.
- Direct the extinguishing jet at the upper part of the body (chest and shoulder area), so that the neck and head can be protected from flames leaping up.
- Then direct the extinguishing jet on the burning person's body from top to bottom, i.e. from the shoulder area to the feet.
- Then call the emergency doctor and stay with the person.
- Have the fire extinguisher refilled by a fire protection company, do not hang it back at the fire extinguisher location!
Areas of application for the fire blanket
Now the question arises, when is a fire blanket useful at all?
- Fire blankets can be used for very small incipient fires, e.g. candle decorations (Advent wreath), work in a laboratory or kitchen appliances that suddenly smoke or have caught fire (pull the plug immediately!).
- Extinguishing blankets can be used well as fire prevention, e.g. when welding work is being carried out, surrounding sources of danger can be covered and protected in the best possible way.
Frequently asked questions and answers about the fire blanket
1. Does a fire blanket need to be maintained?
No, fire blankets are not subject to any maintenance or testing requirements.
2. Does it make sense to buy a fire blanket for the kitchen?
Yes, it makes sense. But remember, you should not use a fire blanket for cooking fat or cooking oil fires, only fat fire extinguishers will help. If small electrical appliances in the kitchen start to smoke or catch fire, the fire blanket is a good choice.
3. Are fire blankets suitable for personal fires?
Fire blankets should NOT be used for personal fires. On the one hand, it is difficult to get the burning person wrapped up in the fire blanket, and on the other hand, this adds additional burn injuries to the person. A fire extinguisher is better.
4. Do fire blankets have an expiry date?
Fire blankets do not have an expiry date. Nevertheless, the material can wear out at some point (also depending on the environmental situation). Since fire blankets are quite cheap, it makes sense to replace them after several years.
5. What do you extinguish with a fire blanket?
Extinguishing blankets are intended for small incipient fires, for example a candle decoration, a kitchen appliance, the wastepaper basket or similar.
Conclusion on fire blankets
Extinguishing blankets are basically a good first aid to extinguish small fires. Surrounding objects can also be protected as fire prevention, during welding work or similar. For cooking fat and cooking oil fires, it is better to use a fat fire extinguisher. For personal fires, a fire extinguisher is always better than a fire blanket.
Thank you for reading this article and considering the issue of fire blankets. We hope you will never find yourself in a situation where you need to use a fire blanket or fire extinguisher in an emergency. If you do, you are now well prepared!