In this article, the Asco team is going to be taking a closer look at fire theory, honing in on the fundamental elements of what makes a fire and keeps it going, and the different extinction methods that counteract it.
Understanding the fire triangle
In order to understand how to best put out a fire, you need to first understand the core elements that make up a fire, which is where the fire triangle comes in. The fire triangle can be understood as a chemical reaction between three different things: heat, fuel and oxygen. All three of these component parts are necessary in order to create a fire, and removing just one of them can put one out.
- Heat: Heat is required to start a fire, and once a fire starts raging, more heat will be generated. Examples of heat sources that can start a fire range from struck matches to improperly ventilated machinery.
- Fuel: Fuel can be understood as anything that’s combustible, so things like wood, petrol, spirits and various types of gases could all potentially be considered fuel for fire. While solid fuels such as wood must reach a certain temperature in order to ignite, flammable liquids and gases are much more dangerous, with the latter being able to combust at a moment’s notice.
- Oxygen: The air that we breathe is made up of around 21% oxygen, and the amount of oxygen a fire needs in order to ignite is around 16%. It’s clear, then, that there’s enough oxygen in the atmosphere at all times for a fire to start.
Fire extinction methods
Now we’ve got a clearer understanding of the fire triangle and how it works, let’s take a look at some fire extinction methods that can be used as a direct counter to different elements of the fire triangle. Remember: we only need to remove one element in order to stifle a fire.
Trying to cool a fire is all about removing the heat source that keeps a fire burning. This isn’t easy since once a fire starts going it will be generating its own heat at an alarming rate. One example method of cooling a fire is dousing it with water which will help absorb the heat.
It’s important to remember, however, that water should only be used to tackle Class A fires, i.e., those caused by combustible materials such as wood, fabric and paper. If you want to better understand which fire extinguisher is correct for a variety of different scenarios, then read this article.
Removing the fuel
A fire is dependent on its fuel source in order to keep burning and will go out once that source runs out. For example, a log fire that doesn’t get topped up with additional logs will eventually just turn to embers and go out. In the same way, a fire that’s been caused by a gas supply, such as a hob or a gas canister, will go out if the gas supply is shut off.
Of course, we’re not recommending you actually try to do this in the event of a fire, instead, look for the correct type of fire extinguisher to douse the flames.
While oxygen is present in the atmosphere at all times, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be removed from a fire. For example, for certain types of fires, a fire blanket can be used, which is thrown directly onto the fire itself to smother it and starve it of oxygen.
If you’re looking for an expert fire protection team in Scotland, look no further than Asco. We have all bases covered, and even have our own UK-based factory producing high-quality products. For more information about our services, all you have to do is get in touch.