Sensor causes fire scare for SWA 737 landing at Sea-Tac


SEATAC, Wash. – The Federal Aviation Administration says a Southwest Airlines flight from Salt Lake City landed safely at Sea-Tac Airport after a light indicated a fire in a storage area.

The pilot discharged a fire extinguisher and firefighters met the plane.

A Southwest spokeswoman, Brandy King, says there was no fire. She says the problem was a malfunction with the sensor in the cargo area.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer says the pilot believed there was a fire in the forward storage area and discharged the halon fire extinguisher. He says once it was discharged, the light went out.

The plane landed without incident at Sea-Tac, its destination.



I can just hear the complaints about the fine powdery substance all over some jerk’s luggage.


I’m sure there will be complaints, but the fire supressent used was Halon- so there will be no residue. Only a hefty bill to recharge the supression system.


So is it just a gas that depletes oxygen? I tried to look it up but all the explanations were over my head.

I was picturing something like those little red fire extinguishers that are now usually locked in a glass box. I’ve never fired one (or more) off but I heard from a friend that they can be quite messy. My friend also told me that it used to be fun to fire them off at certain times, usually the very early hours of weekend mornings. I don’t really know that guy anymore!


In essence yes- it is used in telecomm and computer rooms, as well as museums where other methods could damage high value thingies. It is an Ozone depleter though, making it expensive to replace.


Fire needs 3 things: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Halon works by “soaking up” all the available heat, so the fire dies out despite fuel and oxygen being present.


What if there were dogs in the hold?? Or, do they ride in a seperate area?

Could have been triggered by one of those pesky poker playing dogs and his cigar… Hmmmmm…



Needle, you always have just the right thing for the occasion! Thanks!


They would probably suffocate.

Not exactly. They ride along with the rest of the cargo. If I recall correctly from my ramper days, in the 737 the live cargo goes in the back compartment. I do remember quite clearly that on the A320 series the live cargo goes in the front cargo hold. The rear is not heated.


SWA does not accept pets as cargo.


I’m a little late to this conversation, but wanted to add that Halon is also used on high-tech ships (like research vessels). It doesn’t destroy electrical/computer equipment, so non-burned systems (hopefully at least navigation & propulsion, for example) can still function.

In addition to the engine rooms on research vessels, I’ve also seen Halon fire extinguishers in labs with electronic analytical equipment (scanning electron microscopes, etc.). Seems like cool stuff.