There are plenty of fire containment products on the market made for dealing with lithium ion batteries in personal electronic devices (PEDs) that overheat and catch fire in flight. Several of them claim to be “FAA certified,” “successfully tested by the FAA” or “[meet] FAA standards.” That all sounds good except for the fact that according to the FAA, it doesn’t have any kind of testing standards or procedures for approving these products.
In addition, the fire-fighting instructions that accompany the products don’t necessary match up with FAA-recommended procedure. As a result, the FAA has recently issued an Information for Operators (InFO) document clarifying its policy on the handling of burning PEDs inflight. AN of particular interest includes the moving of burning PEDs. Contrary to many of the containment products’ usage instructions, the InFO states that “The FAA does not support any manufacturer procedure that suggests moving a burning, smoking or hot device.” The InFO also makes it clear that the FAA is not opposed to the use of the products—as long as FAA-recommended procedures are followed when using them.
The InFO references the FAA’s Safety Alert for Operators 09013, “Fighting Fires Caused By Lithium Type Batteries in Portable Electronic Devices” and Advisory Circulars 20-42D and 120-80A, “Hand Fire Extinguishers for use in Aircraft” and “In-flight Fires” for further information on the administration’s recommended PED inflight fire-response procedures.