The FAA is warning operators to follow the agency’s guidance on containing fires involving portable electronic devices, rather than conflicting instructions that might accompany a fire containment kit or bag. In an Information for Operators (InFO 17021), the agency noted some manufacturers of fire containment kits or bags have advertised that their products are “FAA certified, successfully tested by the FAA, or meet FAA standards.” But, the FAA added, “There are no FAA test standards for these containment products, nor is there a mechanism in place for the approval of these products.”
The agency has released a Safety Alert for Operators (SAF0 0913, "Fighting Fires Caused by Lithium Type Batteries in Portable Electronic Devices") and Advisory Circulars (AC 20-42D, "Hand Fire Extinguishers for use in Aircraft"; and AC 120-80A, "In-flight Fires") outlining specific procedures for extinguishing and cooling a device that might have caught fire.
“While some manufacturers of certain containment bags may recommend that a crewmember move a burning, smoking, or hot device associated with a lithium battery, the FAA continues to recommend that a crewmember should not move any device that is burning, smoking, or exhibiting any evidence of overheating until that device has been thoroughly cooled,” the agency said, noting it believes that regardless of how effective a containment kit might be, the highest risk could lie in the transfer of a burning battery to the containment kit.
The FAA recommends that operators incorporate training drills to reinforce proper handling of lithium battery-related heat, smoke, or fire events. Guidance calls for applying water or nonflammable aqueous substance for at least 15 minutes after a fire has been extinguished or smoke has dissipated. The cooled device may then be moved to a receptacle or containment product, the agency said.