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that is not needed, depending on the type of life vest. Ask a
uniformed crew member for assistance.
You can also use carbonated soft drinks and bottled water as
extinguishing agents. Shaking carbonated soft drinks before
opening them may help. These alternative devices can be helpful resources in an impending crisis.
Battery fire. The following strategy could be used if a
high-energy battery fire occurs. This would be a Class D fire
and may be difficult to control. Quickly cooling the battery is
critical. Promptly put water (or other nonflammable liquids)
on the battery to cool it and prevent reignition or propagation of the fire to the adjacent cells of the battery pack. 1 Use
as much water and other nonflammable liquids as possible
to extinguish the fire. The more water on and around the
battery, the better. Obviously, remove all flammable materials
away from the battery. If necessary, move the battery to a
safe location. Have the flight crew help you find such a place.
One safe location would be an aluminum serving cart and
tray. Empty the serving cart of its contents first, and roll the
cart to the location of the battery. Use the metal tray/drink
insert (the metal bin that fits in the serving cart and holds
the soft drinks and ice) to scoop up the battery and put it in
the serving cart. Ensure that the cart is clearly away from the
cockpit and in a spot where it can be monitored.
Along with these interventions, the flight crew in the cabin
will be giving instructions to the passengers concerning
possible smoke and appropriate procedures. Throughout
these actions, brace yourself. The pilot will be aggressively
maneuvering the aircraft to an airport.
Cabin smoke. If smoke is in the cabin, it would seem that
the cabin oxygen masks would be useful, but the passenger
oxygen masks will not be deployed. They will not help in this
situation. They provide supplemental oxygen only when the
cabin pressure is low. There should be personal breathing
equipment (PBE) onboard. It would not be practicable to cover
the operation of this equipment in this article. Ask a flight
attendant to help you with it. A few important things to know
about the PBE, though, is that it can be used only once and by
one person only. It will function for about 15 minutes.
Do not handle aircraft emergency equipment unless it is an
extreme emergency, and introduce yourself to the flight attendant. Unauthorized handling of aircraft emergency equipment
is a felony. The airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration
will prosecute for unauthorized handling of the equipment.
1. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular 20-42D FAA AC 20-42D, “Hand
Fire Extinguishers for Use in Aircraft”
JOHN MCLOUGHLIN is a B-767 captain at American Airlines and has
more than 30 years of commercial flying experience. He is a member
of the pilot’s union safety committee. He was previously a volunteer
firefighter for 15 years and a captain of Engine 3 of the Hauppauge
(NY) Fire Department. He is a member of the National Fire Protection
Association ARFF committee, a participant in the ARFF Working
Group, and a member of the validation committee for IFSTA Aircraft
Rescue and Fire Fighting, 6th edition.
( 4) The aircraft aluminum serving cart.