Bagging an In-Flight Fire
While in-flight fires remain extremely rare, the proliferation of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery-powered personal electronic devices (PEDs) has increased the chance of one occurring. As of last October 5, the FAA had recorded 130 incidents of smoke or fire involving lithium batteries carried as cargo or baggage at airports or on commercial flights. In one case, a passenger’s Samsung Galaxy Note 7 caught fire while he was boarding an airliner.
Li-ion battery fires can be difficult to put out due to the ultra-high temperatures involved. If not cooled quickly, the battery can explode. The FAA recommends using a Halon extinguisher to snuff out the fire, then dousing the PED with water.
Because these steps don’t always prevent an explosion, especially on waterproof PEDs, some airlines and bizjet operators are equipping their aircraft with PED fire-containment systems (FCS). Essentially a fireproof bag or case, an FCS is designed to contain flames, fumes, and objects during a Li-ion fire or battery explosion.
Some FCSs, like those from Fire Containment Concepts and PlaneGuard, allow extinguishing agents to be added to the sealed bag or case.
The Hot-Stop “L” uses Airtight Zipper Technology to hold water and fumes inside regardless of how the bag is tipped. Most FCSs also include fireproof gloves for handling the hot PED. Your pilot or cabin attendant should indicate the existence and location of the FCS during your passenger briefing.