How does one fight a fire on a passenger jet?

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Offline CliffordK

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How does one fight a fire on a passenger jet?
« on: 15/04/2014 19:34:33 »
How would one fight a catastrophic fire on a passenger jet?

One of the theories about the missing Malaysian MH370 flight was that it experienced a catastrophic fire onboard, perhaps either due to carrying 200 kg of Lithium batteries onboard, or perhaps a fire hit the batteries which may have then exacerbated the fire.

Apparently they don't deploy oxygen masks during fires as the added O2 might exacerbate the fires.  And, apparently the masks only supply a few minutes of oxygen.

Do they just let all the passengers get overcome by smoke inhalation?  What about on a transpacific or transatlantic flight?

What about the pilots?  Do they have access to supplemental air/oxygen whenever they feel they have a need?  Does the cockpit have an independent ventilation system from the rest of the cabin?

Anyway, how would one fight a massive fire onboard other than trying to get the plane landed and evacuated as soon as possible?

WWII movies show attempts to "blow out" engine fires with a steep decent, but that wouldn't be effective with a cabin fire.  Perhaps attempt to rise up to the maximum elevation for the plane, then depressurize the cabin (and allow the supplemental O2 masks to descend).  But, if the engines run on oxygen, would this be enough?  One could push it higher until the engines stalled, but that would be dangerous.  Apparently the Oxygen masks are only good for a short time (no mechanism to scavenge ambient air/oxygen?)

Perhaps one could drop the O2 masks, then flood the passenger compartment with a non-toxic inert gas, Argon?  Argonite?

Apparently the Argonite can even be effective at concentrations where the oxygen is still breathable. 

What if one lost the cockpit?  Would there be any way to control the aircraft from outside of the cockpit?