Planned and Unplanned Emergencies
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    In-Flight Fire Fighting

    All professional firefighters all agree on one thing; when fighting a fire you have to take immediate and aggressive action to extinguish it.  So, if you’re the person who discovers the fire, it means YOU are the firefighter.  Initially check what you have to hand; can the fire be put out with something else other than a fire extinguisher?  It takes valuable time to collect a smoke mask, put it on, get a fire extinguisher and then start fire fighting;  in that time you could have extinguished the fire with a cup of water (especially if it’s a bin fire) or a blanket, or just by turning off the power.   Putting out the fire quickly this way can also prevent the fire becoming bigger and really taking hold in the time it took you to collect your equipment.  Think laterally, and use your initiative!  Fire needs 3 elements to exist; fuel, oxygen and heat – take one away and you have no fire!

    However, if you need an extinguisher then you will need your smokehood.  The smokehood will protect you from the smoke (obvious) because it only takes a small amount of smoke to cause you damage, and the effects can GREATLY differ from person to person.  Two colleagues of mine were in the same ‘smoke in the cockpit’ incident and whilst one had no ill effects at all from inhaling the smoke, the other was off work for six months!

    The smokehood will also protect you from the effects of HALON because, don’t forget, you are discharging a gas into a small enclosed environment and that gas will replace the oxygen you need.  HALON itself is not dangerous although it can cause narcotic effects and in large quantities can cause asphyxiation.  However, once it has been used on a fire, it does release some quite obnoxious chemicals and these are what you want to protect yourself from.  Check out the following link for a Safety Data Sheet from BOC on HALON 1211 (HERE

    When using a fire extinguisher, the manufacturer says that if you cannot be 10-12 feet away from the fire then stand to one side.  Now, the cabin of the Citation Jet is barely that long anyway so you could probably fight the fire from the cockpit if you had to, however larger cabins will not have that problem. The reason for standing 10-12 feet away is that the force of the extinguishent coming out of the nozzle is quite powerful, so if there is danger of the burning material being spread around the cabin during fire fighting.  So if you can’t stand 10-12 feet away, aim the extinguisher to one side or ‘bounce’ the gas off a bulkhead and allow the HALON to settle, or be directed onto, the fire.  In all cases you should be aiming at the base of the fire and use a side to side sweeping motion until the fire is extinguished.

    HALON puts out a fire by interrupting the chemical process of the fire although it does do some smothering (removing oxygen) and cooling (removing heat).  However, once the HALON has stopped flowing the oxygen can return and the residual heat may reactivate the fire; it is very important to dampen down any fire put out with HALON with water or other non flammable liquid.

    Here is a video of ow to put out a Class A Fire using HALON.  It was made using an ultra realistic training aid I have developed.

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