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Fire Blanket Sizes

Guest Andy Shaw

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Guest Andy Shaw

I was looking around at fire blankets to distribute to stewards at candlelit carol services at a church. My intention was that they would be available so that stewards could wrap a blanket around someone if they managed to knock over candles and set their clothing on fire. I was considering this because our insurers have specifically recommended that fire blankets be kept at candlelit services for this purpose. However, I've noticed the following warning printed on the packaging of the 1m X 1m fire blankets that I've seen:

"WARNING! This fire blanket is not an adequate size for adult clothing fires."

I called the fire service in my area for advice and they confirmed that 1m X 1m is indeed too small to be effective for this use. However, this is a little confusing as the fire blankets of all sizes from Safelincs are advertised as being:

"ideal for use on waste bin fires and clothing fires"

Could you advise as to what size I should be looking at getting for this use? I have been searching the internet for some guidance and there doesn't appear to be much at all!

Also, when I spoke with the fire officer he said it was important that if we are to use fire blankets for this purpose, we must make sure those who might have to use them are adequately trained. I've had fire warden training by the local fire service and was shown how to use a fire extinguisher, it also included a demonstration of how to use a fire blanket on a chip pan fire, but it didn't include any instruction on how to use one on someone who's clothes are on fire.

Are you able to offer any advice on this?

Many thanks

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Hi Andy

Thanks for your contribution to the forum and this query. To find out more I just went into the warehouse to check the fire blankets we sell (Kidde, Ultrafire, Jactone, Ardenoak etc). None of our fire blankets (even the 1x1m models) state a warning about the use on clothing fires. In fact three 1x1m models specifically state that the fire blanket in question is suitable for the use on clothing fires. I would be interested in the make of the fire blanket you found with the warning.

The question about the correct size of a fire blanket for clothing fires is a difficult one to answer. It certainly would be almost impossible to extinguish a grown-up person completely on fire with a 1x1m fire blanket, so much is obvious. As always, this is a question of compromise between costs and fire fighting capability. To give an example from a slightly different area: small traditional household fire extinguishers are suitable to extinguish small fires when they have just started. No household extinguisher would be capable to tackle a full blaze. It is the same with fire blankets. A small fire blanket will be good in tackling clothing fires when they have just started, or a small bin fire and, of course, a small fat fire.

If you have specific reasons to expect a high likelihood of clothing fires (eg candle services) you should probably choose larger fire blankets (you can go up up to 1.8x1.8m). In your particular case I would also consider holding a few smallish dry water mist extinguishers at the ready. This type of extinguisher sprays a very fine water mist and cannot cause harm if used on a person, even if used without the proper fire fighting training (from a legal point I should probably not say this, however, I have tested this statement by spraying in my own face. To any reader: Please do not try this yourself!). The mist has excellent fire fighting capability, cools the area affected and keeps a layer of mist between the fire and the user of the extinguisher.

Any employer with a larger risk of clothing fires should consider flameproof clothing or fire retardant treatment.

Kind Regards

Harry Dewick-Eisele, MD, Safelincs

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Stop, Wrap, Drop and Roll

Fire services and police throughout the country recommend the 'STOP, WRAP, DROP AND ROLL' rule if they ever find themselves in the situation where they have to help someone whose clothing has caught fire - even themselves:

STOP - means don't panic and run about, as it will make the fire worse

WRAP - the victim in a rug, coat or blanket

DROP - to the floor, and...

ROLL - until the flames are extinguished

Then, straightaway, pour cold water over the burn for at least 10 minutes but don't remove any clothing. You can remove any tight belts or jewellery that the injured person is wearing as burned skin tends to swell. Cover the burned area with a clean, smooth cloth or cling-film to keep out infection until it can be properly dressed.

Unless it's a very small burn, take the injured person to hospital or dial 999, especially if they lose consciousness. Lastly, don't give the person anything to eat or drink in case they need a general anesthetic at the hospital.

This will means as well as a blanket you need water to be available in fair large quantity and a means to apply it to the victim.

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Guest Andy Shaw

Many thanks for your help. I'm pleased to read that you recommend the dry water mist extinguishers, as that was the conclusion I also came to having read up on them - they seem to be the ideal extinguisher to have on hand for this kind of eventuality.

As for likelihood, I don't consider it to be high as we've never had incidents in the past and I'm already making other changes to this year's arrangements to bring the possibility of clothing fires down to an acceptable level. However, while unlikely, the fact remains that of all the things that could catch fire during such services, clothing is still fairly near the top of the list.

I therefore already bought three small dry water mist extinguishers from Safelincs last week to supplement the foam and CO2 ones we already have in the building, and was thinking of also getting a couple of fire blankets of an appropriate size.

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  • 3 weeks later...

To proof our statement we actually created last week a quick video showing the smallest water mist extinguisher (1 ltr) on three different clothing fires. All was filmed with one and the same extinguisher without refill. I was really stunned by the efficiency and clout of the extinguisher. It just works instantly and cools the area affected. It also creates a buffer of mist between you and the fire, so you don't feel the heat so much.


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