A fire triangle refers to the three types elements that a Fire needs to work.
These are Oxygen, Heat and Fuel. So in essence FIRE = FUEL, HEAT & OXYGEN
If you manage to starve the fire of one of these elements out, the fire will also die out.
Fuel: All fires need a source of material or in other words Fuel to burn. Depending on the fuel source which could be almost anything including papers, oils, wood, gases, liquids, plastics, rubber, the fire will burn at different temperatures.
Heat: As well as a source of fuel, fires also need heat to combust (to catch on fire). All flammable materials give of flammable vapours when heated, which combust. Many factors play a part, however depending on the density of the material also depends on how easily it combusts and how long it burns for. Paper burns really quickly and fast as it gives off more flammable vapours and doesn’t have as much density as say a car tyre which gives off less flammable vapours when heated so it takes longer to catch on fire but being denser will burn for longer. Car tyres are also made up of several different chemicals, some being toxic which will produce a thick black hazardous smoke when burnt.
Some liquids also produce flammable gases like petrol or white spirit. Each known flammable liquids are usually tested to find out their “Flashpoint” this is the temperature at which they will combust.
Oxygen: We all need Oxygen to breath and stay alive, fires are no different. As well as Fuel and Heat, fires also need Oxygen to stay alight. Oxygen mixes with the flammable gases given off by the Fuel to ignite. it is worth noting that too much Oxygen can also stop a fire from igniting as the flammable gases will be diluted (thinned out enough) as not to ignite.
Although it is worth remembering Oxygen is not a major factor in a fire and most fire fighters or similar services tend to tackle a fire by reducing its heat, or removing its Fuel source or asses to new Fuel (combustible material).
So, if a fire runs out of Fuel, that is combustible material, it will smoulder out. If you can cool the temperature of a fire down sufficiently, so that it loses Heat, if will go out. If you can remove the Oxygen which helps feed the Fire, it will also go out.
Facts about fire. Did you know..?
- In 2010-11 Fire and Rescue Services attended 624,000 fires or false alarms in Britain.
- 75,500 were accidental fires and deliberate fires accounted for 36,000.
- The total number of domestic fires from 2010-2011 was 45,000.
- Smoking is the largest cause of deaths involving domestic fires.
- 388 people were killed and the most of these deaths were because of accidental house fires.
- 52% of domestic fires start in the kitchen – the majority are chip-pan fires.
- Around 35% of deaths during home fires are caused by burns. The remainder are caused by smoke and poisonous gas inhalation or lack of oxygen.
- Most deaths due to fires in the home happen when people are sleeping.
- During a usual fire, the temperature is 20ºC at floor level but it rises to 120ºC at 4.5 feet.
- The temperature will be higher then the boiling point of water at an average adult’s head height.
- When a survey of 500 fatal home fires was conducted, over 420 of the cases where people had died showed that they didn’t have a smoke alarm, or the smoke alarm wasn’t work.
- The communities most at risk from fire are also those least likely to have working smoke alarms.
- Elderly living alone are amongst the most vulnerable, especially if they don’t have sufficient mobility to unable them to escape it.
- Smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling as close to the centre of the room, hallway or open space as possible and be at the minimum 30cm away from any light fitting or wall.
- You should check your smoke alarms at least once every week and change the battery at least once a year.
Statistics taken from Fire Statistics Great Britian 2010 – 2011 and west Sussex County Council website.