A Strange View of Fire Safety

A Strange View of Fire Safety

Because fire safety is a way of life to those of us in the fire service, sometimes it is difficult for us to fathom the reasoning behind the failure to implement the best techniques to minimize the danger of fire.

The testimony of Edmund J. Koenke, director of the Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center, before the United States House of Representatives subcommittee on transportation, aviation and materials and the subcommittee on investigations and oversight on March 9, may help to clear up this cloudy area. At least it provides a view of where life takes its place in aviation safety priorities.

Koenke testified that FAA tests showed that an aircraft cabin fire can flash over in shortly after two minutes and “within a short period thereafter, survival will no longer be possible. He explained that if a fire-blocking layer of Vonar is used to protect flexible urethane foam cushions, survival is possible for over three minutes or an improvement of about 50 seconds.

Why doesn’t the FAA require this protection? It would add 3 to 4 pounds per seat over a period of 10 years, an added weight of 3 pounds per seat would cause a B-747 aircraft to use “approximately 200,000 gallons of fuel.”

Meanwhile, the FAA is working with NASA in searching for alternative blocking layers and improved foams. Now you know.

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