Date Posted:6 September 2019 

FAQ: Why cant I use a standard fire blanket as a personal protective bushfire blanket?

It is a common question – the local hardware store sells fibreglass fire blankets, which are cheap, and (in some situations) may be all that is required to fulfil the relevant Work Health and Safety requirements. It is critical to first establish the purpose of the blanket.

If, for example, you simply want to be able to extinguish a small cooking fire, then a standard Fire Blanket may be suitable. However, if you wish to protect a human from direct flame, burning debris or radiant heat in a ‘fire entrapment’ or evacuation situation, then it is important to understand some key differences in the application for which a Fire Blanket and a Personal Protective Fire Blanket (PPFB) are designed.

Purpose – the purpose of a Fire Blanket is to extinguish a fire, while a Personal Protective Fire Blanket is intended to protect a user from fire.

A Fire Blanket (as per AS/NZS 3504:2006) is “A flexible sheet of material designed to extinguish small fires by smothering” (1.4.2)

A Personal Protective Fire Blanket (PPFB) (as per AFAC ‘Personal Protective Blanket Specification’ Version 1) is intended to provide “protection to the user from the impact of direct flame, molten debris and radiant heat during entrapment” (1.).

Size – each blanket is designed for a different purpose, hence the different size requirements.

AS/NZS 3504:2006 “Fire Blankets shall be rectangular or square, with no edge longer than 1.8m and no edge shorter than 0.9m” (2.3)

AFAC PPBS V.1 “The Blanket shall be a minimum of 2.0 metres by 1.8 metres and provide adequate protection for users when in the sitting, kneeling, crouching and prostrate/prone positions” (6.).

Performance testing – the Fire Blanket is tested on its ability to extinguish a cooking oil fire, while the PPFB is tested to provide a specified level of protection for a user, from direct flame, molten debris and radiant heat.

AS/NZS 3504:2006 “Four fire blankets shall be tested in accordance with the cooking oil performance test set out in Appendix A” (3.1) (Appendix A sets out a method for assessing if a fire blanket can extinguish a cooking oil fire.)

AFAC PPBS V.1 Pre-treatment, Flame Spread (Face Ignition and Edge Ignition), Heat Transfer (Flame Exposure), Heat Transfer (Radiant Exposure), Residual strength of material when exposed to radiant heat, Heat Resistance and Heat Resistance of sewing thread (7.1-7.7).

Still not clear? The team at Thermaguard would welcome the opportunity to discuss your specific requirements. Please contact us today!

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