Fire blankets are woven from special, fire resistant materials such as fibreglass, aramid fibres or wool. They can be used either to extinguish a small fire or to protect an individual trapped in a fire. The National Fire Protection Agency, or NFPA, maintains a specific set of certification standards for all flame-resistant garments, including fire blankets.
All fire blankets must have a product label that includes detailed contact information for the manufacturer. The label must also state the blanket's identification number, size and fibre content. The label should also inform the consumer to read the instruction manual before using the fire blanket.
The manufacturer must include information related to all warnings and instructions for usage. A sizing chart to inform the consumer of the specific range of body sizes accommodated by each size of fire blanket should be provided.
The blanket must be free of rough spots and sharp edges. If the blanket contains metal, it must not come in contact with the body.
Thermal Protective Performance Test
A representative sample of each type of fire blanket is tested to ensure its ability to protect a body from high heat. The test involves exposing the sample to a convective heat source for 30-second intervals. The standards for protection vary dependent on the type, material and thickness of the blanket.
Flame Resistance Test
A direct flame is introduced to three samples to determine the blanket's ability to withstand direct contact with a fire. If any one sample fails this test, or any test, the fire blanket cannot be certified. Manufacturers must keep records of all passes and fails.
Thermal Shrinkage Resistance
A fire blanket is placed on a clothed dummy and exposed to heat and flame for 3 seconds. A computer program then determines the percentage of the body that would have sustained second- or third-degree burns.
Manufacturers may perform additional tests unrelated to the blanket's fire resistance. These include tests to determine tensile strength, tear resistance, colour fastness and weight.