We’ve probably all seen a fire blanket in public buildings and even in homes but do you know why they’re useful if there’s a fire?
Fire blankets come in a variety of sizes, each size is best suited to a certain application.
- Small fire blankets, e.g. 1m by 1m, are a good size to keep at home in the kitchen and can be used to extinguish small fires that may occur when cooking. Ideal situations include chip pan or grill fires.
- Large fire blankets can be used in places like laboratories and are ideal for extinguishing small chemical fires or fires caused by machinery.
Fire blankets are made of fire retardant material and are usually only suitable for one use as the efficacy of the blanket will probably be reduced when exposed to fire. Materials that are commonly used for fire blankets are fibreglass, kevlar and wool coated in a fire retardant liquid.
For a fire to burn effectively it must have three sources – heat, fuel and oxygen. Removing one or more of these fire sources will cause the fire to extinguish. For example, when the fire service sprays water onto a burning building they are trying to cool the burning materials (the fuel) so they don’t burn as easily. Some fire extinguishers spray foam over a fire and this prevents oxygen in the air from reaching the fuel and heat. Fire blankets work on the same principal, when you cover a fire with a fire blanket you are preventing air from getting to the fire thus removing the oxygen element and extinguishing the fire.
Fire blankets are suitable to use when the fire is still small and manageable and only if you are confident enough to use them. Extinguishing a fire as early as possible can save thousands of pounds worth of damage and even lives. However, if you think the fire may be too large and you might risk harming yourself call the fire service immediately and raise the fire alarm if you have not already done so.