In Fire-involved Accidents and Incidents Reviewed , Rudolf Kapustin stated in 1993 that
Nearly all aircraft accident fatalities that are not the result of crash/impact injuries are the result of post-crash fires and the inability to exit aircraft quickly, which in most cases is attributed to incapacitation from toxic smoke, fumes or injuries.
This makes me wonder why airlines don't provide smoke hoods for their passengers in case of a fire, the same way they provide life vests in case of a water landing. If flights crossing a body of water must have life vests available for all passengers in case of a water landing, why not make an equivalent law for smoke hoods in case of a cabin fire?
Protective breathing equipment, or smoke hoods are protective head coverings that prevent wearers from breathing the smoke, particulates and toxic gases generated in a fire. There are two main types of hoods: those that have a source of breathable air and those that just filter the particles out of the air.
The smoke hood for aircraft passengers wouldn't need to be a firefighting grade smoke hood, just enough to get everyone out of the plane before they get asphyxiated.
Today, the recommendation in case of a cabin fire is to stay near the ground where the air is more breathable. If passengers could be equipped with smoke hoods, they could walk out instead, which would likely make an evacuation faster.
Granted, the smoke hoods would be used on rare occasions, they have a cost, take up space, weigh something, and you have to explain to the passengers what to do with one in case an accident happens. So it is unlikely that an airline would spontaneously decide to equip all seats with an emergency smoke hood.
But life vests have all of those disadvantages as well. It seems to me that these hoods would not be any heavier or any more expensive than the life vests, and might be used on more occasions than the life vests. I've seen smoke hoods the size of a soda can, so finding a place to fit one on each seat can't be so hard.
So why aren't plane equipped with emergency smoke hoods for passengers?