Can I Reuse a Fire Blanket? 


When a fire breaks out in your home, you have two choices. You can escape (which is usually the smarter option), or–for smaller fires only–try to tamp down the blaze. A fire blanket is one such tool that can control small fires. After using a fire blanket once, is it then reusable?

As a general rule, fire blankets should not be reused. Fire blankets are intended for one use only, then they should be disposed of. The reason is that the fire blanket cannot choke off oxygen to the fire as efficiently during a second or third use. The safest way to dispose of a fire blanket is to allow it to cool to room temperature and then remove it from the home. 

fire blanket

In this article, we’ll talk about fire blankets in detail, including what they’re designed for and why you shouldn’t reuse yours. We’ll also discuss how often to replace a fire blanket, so make sure you keep reading! 

What Is a Fire Blanket? 

First, let’s delve into fire blankets and what they are. A fire blanket is not like the blankets you have on your bed at home. Rather, these blankets come in a package or a box. They’re made for emergency use to stop small house fires.

Fire blankets are often made of fiberglass and even Kevlar in some instances. To use a fire blanket, you’d step up to the fire and lay the blanket over top of the flames. By tossing the blanket, it could miss, and if it’s not covering the whole fire, it won’t be effective. We’ll talk later about the proper usage of a fire blanket. 

Tonyko Fiberglass Fire Blanket for Emergency Surival, Flame Retardant Protection and Heat Insulation with Various Sizes (39.3×39.3 inches)
  • VARIOUS PLACES TO USE: Emergency survival fire blanket ideal for the kitchen, fireplace, grill, car, camping and so on
  • EXTINGUISH VARIOUS FIRES: Extinguish various types of fire by suffocating it, including liquid and grease fire
  • KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE: Can be used to wrap around your body and act as a heat shield
  • TIDY AFTER EXTINGUISHING FIRE: In contrast to fire extinguishers, the fire blanket can still keep the place tidy after extinguishing a fire
  • STANDARD: Meets EN-1869:1997 standard for cooking fire suppression; Included: 1 PACK 39.3×39.3 Inches(1*1m)Fire Blanket

Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Most fire blankets work in temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re intended for Class F fires, which are those started by cooking oil or cooking fat mishaps. 

Although back in the day, fire blankets were made with asbestos fibers, that’s no longer the case, so you can feel safe using a fire blanket to combat a small household fire. Of course, should you not be comfortable getting close to a fire or if a fire is too large for one fire blanket to be effective, you should call emergency services immediately. 

What is a fire blanket used for?

Fire blankets have many uses. We discussed above how they’re usually a suitable choice for slowing or stopping Class F fires. The reason this works is that a fire needs oxygen and heat. When you put a fire blanket on a fire, it can’t get oxygen and thus can no longer spread. 

Here are some other fire blanket uses you could try:

  • Enwrap yourself or a loved one in the fire blanket on your way out of your home during a fire, especially if the fire is quite severe or if you need to walk through a room that’s ablaze.
  • Cover someone whose clothes are on fire with the fire blanket should they not be able to stop, drop, and roll (yes, that really does work!).

Can I Reuse a Fire Blanket?

Although you hope you’ll never have to use your fire blanket even once, you’re glad you have one on the premises. Let’s say though, for the sake of example, that the worst happens and a fire breaks out in your home. The fire is small enough to contain with a fire blanket, so you use it.

Can you reuse that fire blanket again? No, you cannot. The areas of the blanket that contacted the fire will not be as effective in stopping oxygen from reaching the fire a second time. If you had a second fire and wanted to use a fire blanket for a third time, it would be as good as useless if it wasn’t already.

The only time you can use a fire blanket again is if you unfurled yours thinking you needed it but didn’t end up having to put it on the fire. Once the fire blanket touches the flames, you cannot use it again. 

How to Use a Fire Blanket

We’ve talked generally about how to use a fire blanket to this point, but now it’s time to go into more detail. By presenting a list of steps to follow, it might be easier for you to remember if a disaster ever strikes and you need a fire blanket. 

Here are those steps. 

Step 1: Open the Blanket

As we mentioned earlier, most fire blankets come in packages or boxes. The latter will include a quick-release mechanism so you can easily access the blanket. With the blanket in hand, unfurl it all the way.

Eyeball the size of the fire compared to the size of your fire blanket. If the fire is smaller than the blanket, then your fire blanket is applicable. That’s also true if the fire is about the same size. However, for fires that are even slightly larger than the fire blanket, using the blanket is not a good idea.

Step 2: Walk Towards the Fire

Hold the unfurled blanket in both hands, keeping it at arm’s length. The blanket shouldn’t block your face or eyes, so carry it below your chin to maintain full visibility. Then, while moving slowly, approach the fire. 

Step 3: Apply the Fire Blanket

As we said before, you’re not throwing the fire blanket, as the air can catch the blanket and cause it to land lopsided or even completely miss the fire. Instead, you want to cover the fire with concerted effort.

Step 4: Make Your Exit

Fire blankets should remain in place for 30 to 60 minutes after applying. That’s a long time to wait around while your home is actively burning. You should not remain in the room or even in the house after applying the fire blanket. 

Exit immediately. When you’re in a safe space, contact emergency services. Once the fire department arrives, tell them that you put a fire blanket on the source of the fire. 

If it’s been at least 30 minutes, then the cooking fats or oils could have cooled. The fire shouldn’t spread when the firefighters remove the fire blanket. However, if the cooking fats and oils needed 60 minutes to cool and it’s only been about a half-hour, then taking off the blanket will reintroduce oxygen to the fire, allowing it to spread.

Fortunately, by that point, firefighters are already on the premises, so they can combat the fire with their hoses and other professional equipment, hopefully saving your home. 

Can I Wash a Fire Blanket?

Let’s say you’ve had your fire blanket for a long time. Although there hasn’t been a fire in your home recently, you still worry about the efficacy of the old fire blanket should you have to use it. 

Could you wash your fire blanket? That depends on the manufacturer. For example, Flinn Scientific. Inc, one brand that makes fire blankets, claims you can indeed wash their fire blankets. 

To do so, you’d put one fire blanket in your washing machine at a time (assuming you have more than one blanket to wash). Use mild laundry detergent and cold water for washing. Flinn next says to lightly agitate the fire blanket in the washer at an elevated water level for two minutes. 

You could spin dry in one-minute increments or dry the fire blanket by hand. You want to first fold the blanket and then lay it on a drying line so that each half on the line is about the same size. This will keep the weight distribution even so the heavy fire blanket doesn’t snap your drying line.

You might have to tug on the blanket a bit to get it back into shape while it’s drying and immediately after. Before the blanket dries entirely, take it off the line and hang it so the side of the blanket that was on the line is now opposite. You should also shake the blanket a few times as it dries.   

We want to reiterate that the above instructions only apply for Flinn Scientific Inc. fire blankets. If your blanket is produced by another company, we recommend contacting that company and asking whether you can wash and dry their fire blanket. 

How Often Should a Fire Blanket Be Replaced?

Is washing a fire blanket even worth it? How long are they good for?

Well, if you’ve used your fire blanket, then it’s only good until then, as we talked about. Yet if your fire blanket sits unused, then it’s recommended by UK organization the Fire Industry Association or FIA in their Code of Practice for the Commissioning and Maintenance of Fire Blankets Manufactured to BS EN 1869 that you replace your fire blanket seven years after it’s commissioned. 

If the manufacturer of the fire blanket advises you to dispose of the blanket later than that or even earlier, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions over these recommendations. 

Can I Use a Fire Extinguisher Instead of a Fire Blanket? 

There’s an alternative household firefighting tool that many homeowners keep on the premises, and that’s a fire extinguisher. Is such equipment more effective than a fire blanket? 

It can be, yes. Fire extinguishers are available in various classes that are commensurate to the types of fire classes. As we’ve talked about throughout this guide, fires caused by cooking fats and cooking oils are Class F fires. If you had a Class F fire extinguisher, then you could put out the blaze without a fire blanket.

Some extinguishers are known as ABC classes, which can control three types of fires. Class A fires are caused by combustibles such as plastics, cloth, wood, and paper. Class B fires are those started by flammable fluids, including grease, gas, and oil. A Class C fire is caused by malfunctioning electrical equipment. 

You can’t use different types of fire extinguishers interchangeably. If yours is a Class C fire but all you have is a Class F extinguisher or vice-versa, then a fire blanket would be the better bet. 

If your extinguisher is matched to the type of fire you’re combatting, then you can put out the blaze faster and more safely with a fire extinguisher. Not only that, but there’s no need to get as close to the fire as you’d have to when using a fire blanket.

Best of all, fire extinguishers are reusable, the same of which cannot be said for fire blankets. 

However, using an extinguisher is more complex. You have to remember the PASS acronym. 

P stands for pulling the pin of the fire extinguisher. A is for aiming the nozzle of the extinguisher towards the fire’s base. S is for squeezing the extinguisher’s handle and the second S denotes how you should sweep the extinguisher over the blaze to put it out. 

Fire extinguishers can be heavy and thus too unwieldy for some people, not to mention the discharge residue can leave your house a mess. Even still, at least your home would still be standing! 

Conclusion 

Fire blankets are single-use tools that smother the oxygen a fire needs to spread. Using a fire blanket can be scary since you need to get close to the fire and place the blanket just right. Otherwise, it’s not effective.

Fire extinguishers are often the better choice, but they have a steeper learning curve and are heavier and thus more difficult to use. 

Of course, you should never feel like you have to put out a fire in your home. The best course of action is always to make a swift exit and call emergency services so a firefighter can be dispatched to your property. Stay safe! 

Tonyko Fiberglass Fire Blanket for Emergency Surival, Flame Retardant Protection and Heat Insulation with Various Sizes (39.3×39.3 inches)
  • VARIOUS PLACES TO USE: Emergency survival fire blanket ideal for the kitchen, fireplace, grill, car, camping and so on
  • EXTINGUISH VARIOUS FIRES: Extinguish various types of fire by suffocating it, including liquid and grease fire
  • KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE: Can be used to wrap around your body and act as a heat shield
  • TIDY AFTER EXTINGUISHING FIRE: In contrast to fire extinguishers, the fire blanket can still keep the place tidy after extinguishing a fire
  • STANDARD: Meets EN-1869:1997 standard for cooking fire suppression; Included: 1 PACK 39.3×39.3 Inches(1*1m)Fire Blanket

Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mike Pertz

I’m Mike, I’m a full time firefighter/paramedic/diver for a department just west of Cleveland, Ohio and the founder of FirefighterNOW. I’m also a columnist for FireRescue1. If you’re reading this blog my guess is you are interested in the fire service. There's information on fitness, gear, interviews, tests and more. I hope you find what you're looking for.

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