You might not have heard of the Fire Triangle since your primary school days, but it’s a vital part of fire safety. The model is a way of visually explaining the chemical process behind an ignition.
It’s entry-level stuff, but also hugely enlightening as it turns the daunting prospect of fire into an easily understandable equation.
There are three core components of the formula; fuel, heat, and oxygen. Without any one of these elements, a fire cannot start, so having a deep knowledge of them can help to both prevent a fire or quell one that has already broken out.
Understanding the fire triangle is fundamental to having sound knowledge of fire safety, so LifeSafe is going to explain each part of it and how you can use it to help in the event of an incident.
The Three Elements
Let’s start with the absolute basics; for a fire to start, it needs something to burn. This is called fuel, but that term doesn’t just refer to the stuff you fill up your petrol tank with. It encompasses literally any combustible material.
This can be anything from organic matter, like wood, oils, and vegetation, to artificial products like plastics and fabrics. The volume, shape, and size of the fire are dependent on the type of material that ignited, which means you can reason out what has caused the fire and take steps to minimise it.
Now that we know about the fuel, let’s move on to what will likely spark the fire, a heat source. Anything that’s flammable releases certain vapours into the air, which can easily ignite if there is heat. It won’t just kickstart the blaze either. The more heat that is present, the quicker and stronger it will spread.
The way this works is that the heat source will warm the surrounding area before the fire reaches it, which, in turn, makes everything more easily combustible. Most dwelling fires occur in the kitchen and, with the fire triangle, we can tell this is probably because of the number of heat sources located in it.
The final part of the puzzle is the most readily available resource for a fire. Oxygen is all around us and we couldn’t live without it, but it is also the thing that keeps fires alight.
The element oxidises the others in the equation, releasing heat as it reacts, which will then lead to combustion. The oxygen levels at which fire starts to burn are lower than the average amount in the air, so it’s easy to see how a fire could quickly get out of hand.
Using the Fire Triangle
Take away the fuel and it will eventually fizzle out, cool it and there will be no heat to combust, and lowering the oxygen levels can suffocate it. You might not realise it, but all fire safety products and extinguishers are based on this.
Carbon dioxide extinguishers, for example, work by limiting the oxygen in the fire. The fire triangle can also be used to inform preventative methods, such as detecting and moving potential fuel from heat sources. It might appear quite simple, but the formula serves as the foundations for all advanced fire safety.
Upgrade Your Fire Safety Equipment
If you want your fire safety equipment to match the standard of your newfound knowledge, LifeSafe can help. We have the Life Safe 5-in-1 Fire Extinguisher. It’s an aerosol extinguisher that is lightweight and highly portable, containing just 335ml of liquid in each bottle. It can fit easily in kitchen cabinets and draws, desks and even your glove compartment.