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“Fire in the Cargo Compartment!”

By MR. LALO MAYNES, HQ AMC Flight Safety

Fire suppression bag, gloves, and safety glasses.Photo by Maj Joshua Miller, AMC/SEFOn a recent flight on board a C-17A, after the aircraft reached cruise altitude, the loadmaster called over the intercom that he had smoke in the cargo compartment and then mentioned that there was a fire! The pilot asked the nature of the fire and if it could be put out or had already been extinguished. The loadmaster replied that a passenger’s cell phone charger caught fire—probably due to a faulty charger plugged into the sidewall. The loadmaster grabbed the charger and cell phone and quickly put them into the fire suppression bag to smother it.

The pilot gave control of the aircraft to the co-pilot and proceeded down to the cargo compartment to assess the situation. The compartment was still smoky from the electrical wire burning, and he noticed the acrid smell associated with an electrical fire. The pilot coordinated with the crew on the flight deck for a divert location and tasked the crew to begin running the SMOKE, FIRE, AND FUMES checklist. The loadmaster instructed the passengers to don their EPOS hoods. The crew declared an in-flight emergency and landed uneventfully.

This was the first use of a fire suppression bag for its intended purpose on an AMC aircraft. In January 2018, HQ AMC/SE provided two fire suppression bags for every AMC active duty aircraft. The bag is designed to extinguish or suffocate and cool down an overheated portable electronic device containing a lithium-ion battery and can be used in vehicles and airplanes.