FOX23 investigation uncovers a growing concern about fires on airplanes

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Reported by: Shae Rozzi
Updated: 2/21 11:17 am Published: 2/20 10:49 pm

TULSA, Okla. - A FOX23 investigation uncovered a growing concern about fires on airplanes and it all centers around your cell phone and other electronics you bring on board.

A UPS cargo plane crash in Dubai in 2010 killed both pilots and was blamed on a load of lithium batteries.

In January 2013, a fire on board a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Boston's Logan International Airport was blamed on the aircraft's own lithium batteries. That led to the grounding of the Dreamliner for several months.

Kent Faith has 25 year experience flying for a commercial airline and calls lithium batteries in all of the personal electronic devices we bring on board a growing threat to passenger safety.

"Your iPhones, iPads, your readers, handheld computers, children's toys; if my phone catches fire right here I'm probably going to walk away from it and walk outside to call the fire department and have them come and put it out. You can't do that at 35,000 feet," said Faith.

FOX23 uncovered more than 100 lithium battery fire incidents investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration between 1991 and 2012.

Faith is also the CEO of Spectrum FX, a Tulsa company that distributes a fire extinguishing liquid made by GSL in Tulsa.

The water-based liquid can extinguish a metal fire quickly. In another test, a man covers his arm with the liquid and puts the flame of a torch right up to his arm.

The product Faith sells is being used on one international airline and is being tested by the FAA to be added to the fire protocol on domestic flights.

Whether they approve his product or not, Faith just wants people to be aware.

"Fire itself is one of the scariest things for a pilot," said Faith.

FOX23 also found researchers at Washington State and the University of North Carolina are looking into ways to change the way lithium batteries are made to lower their risk of a fire.

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