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The Fire Triangle Explained

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When it comes to fire safety, there is plenty you need to consider in order to keep yourself, your employees and your premises safe. As well as learning how to correctly operate a fire extinguisher and understanding your evacuation routes should a blaze break out, it is also important to understand the fire triangle and how this knowledge can help you in an emergency.

In this article, we’ll explain what the fire triangle is and how you can use it to prevent a fire from breaking out or spreading. 

The fire triangle explained graphic by Asco fire group

What is the Fire Triangle?

The fire triangle concentrates on the three elements of oxygen, heat and fuel that are necessary for a fire to start. Without these factors, a fire cannot break out and the fire triangle provides an easy to understand visual representation of this.

Fuel is classified as anything that allows a fire to burn and most businesses contain a whole host of these items. This could include:

  • Paper
  • Wood
  • Fabrics 
  • Oil
  • Electrical equipment

Heat also helps keep a fire burning and this heat is naturally produced as fuel burns. The only way to cool down a fire is to apply water, foam or another type of liquid depending on what kind of fire you’re dealing with.

The final element of the fire triangle (or the combustion triangle as it is sometimes known) is oxygen. Fires only need a tiny amount of oxygen (about 16%) to thrive, so it’s important to stifle it when possible. There are many different ways you can do this. Fire blankets may be helpful in particular situations, such as cooking or kitchen fires. CO2 extinguishers work through displacing oxygen from around the fire and effectively smothering it, and dry powder fire extinguishers work through the powder forming a blanket over the burning fuel and starving the fire of oxygen.

What is the Fire Tetrahedron?

A slightly more complex version of the fire triangle, the fire tetrahedron includes an extra element. As well as the original three of oxygen, fuel and heat, the fire tetrahedron includes a chemical chain reaction. For a fire to ignite and then be sustained, there needs to be sufficient energy generated, something that is caused by a chemical chain reaction.

The fire tetrahedron represents this additional element, with the four sides of the shape each featuring one of these core factors.  

The Fire Tetrahedron Explained

Just like the fire triangle, the fire tetrahedron is a simple and easy way to remember what is required for a fire to thrive. The only difference between the two diagrams is the introduction of the chemical chain reaction, and just like with the other three elements of a fire, it cannot be sustained if one is missing. 

With this in mind, it’s important to curtail the fire as soon as possible. Most fire extinguishers will be able to stop a fire from getting out of control, but it’s important to select the right one. 

This is where Asco Fire Group comes in. We can provide you with a whole host of fire extinguishers that can deal with all manner of blazes. As well as this, we offer a number of fire safety services, including fire risk assessments, fire safety training, fire doors and more. To find out more about what we do, contact our team today.  

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