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Personal Electronic Device Fire - Cabin Crew Checklist

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The following checklist is based upon guidance issued in the ICAO Doc 9481 - Emergency Response Guidance for Aircraft Incidents Involving Dangerous Goods (2009 edition). That guidance has subsequently been expanded by ICAO into checklists covering a number of different potential scenarios and has been published by the UK CAA as IN-2014/118.

In case of fire involving a portable electronic device:

Initial Action

  • Notify Aircraft Captain
  • Identify the item
  • Use standard procedure/obtain and use fire extinguisher: Standard emergency procedures must be used to deal with any fire. Although Halon has been shown to be ineffective against lithium-metal fires, Halon will be effective in fighting the subsequent fire of surrounding materials, or in fighting lithium-ion battery fires.
  • Remove external electrical power from device (if applicable): A battery has a higher likelihood of catching fire through thermal runway during or immediately following a charging cycle, although the effects of thermal runaway may be delayed for some period of time. By removing external power from the device, it will be assured that additional energy is not being fed to the battery to promote a fire.
  • Douse device with water (or other non-flammable liquid) to cool cells and prevent ignition of adjacent cells: If available, a water extinguisher should be used to cool the cells in a battery that has ignited, preventing the spread of heat to adjacent cells. If a water extinguisher is not available, any non-flammable liquid may be used to cool the cells and device.
  • Do not move the device: A battery pack involved in a fire has been shown to reignite and emit flames multiple times as heat is transferred to other cells in the pack. It is preferable to cool the device using water (or other non-flammable liquid); injuries may occur if the device reignites while it is being moved.
  • Remove power to remaining electrical outlets until the aircraft’s system can be determined to be free of faults, if the device was previously plugged in.: By removing power to the remaining electrical outlets it can be assured that a malfunctioning aircraft system does not contribute to additional failures of passenger portable electronic devices.

After Landing

  • Identify the dangerous goods item to ground personnel and where stowed.
  • Make appropriate entry in maintenance log.

Editor's Note: There are now containment cases available on the market within which the PED can be placed. Some of these cases also offer the option of introducing water to cool the device

Related Articles

Further Reading

FAA Research Reports

UK CAA

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