As most people know, a fire blanket is a sheet of flame retardant material designed to extinguish small fires as they start. Fire blankets, for use in kitchens and around the home, should be made of either fibreglass or woven-nylon coated with silicone-based flame retardant. The fire blanket is folded and stored in a quick-release container which means it can be pulled out and placed over a fire to smother it.
For many years fire blankets have been used for extinguishing small, contained fires and for clothing fires. However, they are most associated with kitchen use for chip pans and similar small cooking container fires.
Many users are aware of the British Standard BS EN 1869, covering the manufacture of fire blankets; however, some may not be aware that the standard, first issued in 1997, was comprehensively updated and reissued in 2019.
The Firechief BPR1/K40 has become one of the first fire blankets to be certified to the new BS EN 1869:2019 standard!!
A major change with the new BS EN 1869:2019 standard is the testing. Originally the testing scope was limited to the use of fire blankets on cooking oil fires, despite the fact that they are often are installed for a far wider range of risks than those in the kitchen. With the updated 2019 standard, the original tests for electrical conductivity and cooking oil fires are now joined by a typical small, contained Class B fire using heptane. This gives users reassurance that a tested and approved blanket to BS EN 1869:2019 is truly effective on the wide range of small fires in Classes A, B and F, including where live electrical equipment is involved.
So how do you ensure that a fire blanket is still effective?
A question we are frequently asked by people who have had a fire blanket for a several years, is how they can check that their fire blanket is still fit for use.
The answer is by making a regular visual inspection.
Fire blankets should be visually inspected regularly – ideally monthly; although Fire legislation in England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland suggests that good practice is to check whether a blanket has been used or damaged on a weekly basis. In the case of a commercial property, the building’s Responsible Person must also ensure that the fire equipment maintenance provider checks the fire blanket/s at least once every 12 months.
To be sure that a fire blanket will perform adequately in any of the designed for risks, you need to also look for approval markings to BS EN 1869:2019 accompanied by the official logo/mark of an approved body such as LPCB or BSI, not just a reference number.
When carrying out a visual inspection of a fire blanket, you should ensure that*:
- It is unobstructed and visible. Kitchen furniture and equipment should not block easy access to the fire blanket.
- That the blanket is securely mounted to the wall in the pack or container with the pull-down straps positioned approximately 1.5 metres from the floor.
- The fire blanket container is not obviously damaged; there is no wear or damage to the fire blanket, and it is clean and dust free and that the pull-down straps are visible and undamaged.
- Following the manufacturer’s instructions check that you can easily release the blanket from the container and then reassemble it according to the folding instructions.
- The instructions for use are clean and legible and face outwards.
- You check the age of the fire blanket – An existing BS EN 1869:1997 standard fire blanket could be up to 25 years old; it is rare for blankets to be replaced as routinely as extinguishers do. Current guidance sets a minimum service life of 7 years for a fire blanket.
The responsible person or maintenance company should record the results of these visual inspections and arrange for any necessary corrective action, such as providing a new fire blanket.
*According to the Code of Practice for the Commissioning and Maintenance of Fire Blankets manufactured to BS EN 1869 as issued by the Fire Industry Association (FIA).
The Firechief range includes high-performance fire extinguishers, fire blankets, first aid kits, lithium-ion fire extinguishers for your home and leisure time. For more information, call us on +44 (0)330 999 0019 or email email@example.com.
The information contained within this blog is provided solely for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Before taking any actions based upon this information, we advise the reader to consult any and all relevant statutory or regulatory guidance and where felt necessary to consult a qualified fire or industry regulation professional. The use or reliance on any information contained herein is solely at the reader’s risk.