Enhancing the fire and rescue response

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IFSJ Managing Editor Duncan J. White presents the case for fire blankets to be carried by fire departments

In the realm of firefighting, rapid and effective response is paramount. As fire departments continually strive to optimise their equipment and techniques, the inclusion of fire blankets, particularly for car fires, is a compelling consideration. Fire blankets, though often overlooked, offer unique advantages that can significantly enhance fire safety and response efficacy.

The Unique Nature of Car Fires

Car fires present distinct challenges compared to structural fires. Vehicles contain a mix of flammable materials, complex electrical systems, and, increasingly, high-energy battery packs in electric and hybrid cars. Traditional methods, primarily using water or foam, can be effective but come with limitations, such as potential electrical hazards and the difficulty in suppressing fires involving modern vehicle components. Fire blankets provide a straightforward, versatile solution to these challenges.

Advantages of Fire Blankets

1. Immediate Containment: Fire blankets can quickly smother flames, depriving the fire of oxygen and stopping its spread. This immediate containment is crucial in car fires, where rapid escalation can lead to explosions or the involvement of nearby vehicles and structures.

2. Safety: Using water or foam on electrical components or fuel systems can pose risks. Fire blankets mitigate these hazards by providing a non-conductive barrier, reducing the chance of electrical shocks or chemical reactions.

3. Environmental Impact: Fire blankets reduce the need for chemical extinguishing agents, which can have adverse environmental effects. This aligns with growing environmental stewardship in fire departments and communities.

4. Reusability and Cost-Effectiveness: High-quality fire blankets are durable and can be reused after proper decontamination, offering a cost-effective solution over time. This contrasts with the recurrent costs associated with foam and chemical extinguishing agents.

Practical Implementation

For fire departments, integrating fire blankets into standard equipment involves training personnel in their effective deployment. Firefighters should be proficient in using blankets to cover burning vehicles swiftly, ensuring complete coverage to maximise oxygen deprivation. Additionally, fire departments can develop protocols for the coordinated use of fire blankets with other firefighting methods, creating a multi-layered approach to vehicle fire suppression.


As fire departments evolve to meet modern challenges, embracing fire blankets for car fires represents a strategic enhancement of firefighting capabilities. The immediate containment, safety benefits, environmental considerations, and cost-effectiveness of fire blankets make them an invaluable addition to fire response tools. By equipping firefighters with fire blankets, departments can ensure a more effective, safer, and environmentally friendly approach to combating car fires, ultimately safeguarding lives and property with greater efficacy.

This article was originally published in the July 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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