Understanding Fire: The Fire Triangle

The Fire Triangle | County-Fire Protection


When learning facts about fire, there are three things you must understand: Fuel, Heat and Oxygen. If one of these three components are missing, a fire cannot ignite or grow to any significance. Lets briefly take a look and explore each component.

The Fire Triangle: Fuel

Fuel for fire is any kind of combustible material. Examples of combustible materials include: paper, oil, woods, gases, fabrics, liquid, plastics, and rubbers. Fuel is characterized by its moisture content, size, shape, quality and the pattern in which it spreads. Moisture content determines how easily it will burn. 

The Fire Triangle: Heat

A heat source is responsible for the initial ignition or start of a fire. A heat source can be generated by a cigarette, electrical current or portable heater. Heat is needed to maintain a fire and it also enables them to spread. Heat allows fire to spread by drying out and preheating nearby fuel and warming surrounding air.

The Fire Triangle: Oxygen

Air contains approximately 21 percent oxygen. Most fires only require 16 percent. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during fire. The process is known as oxidation. This is when fuel burns and reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air, releasing heat and generating combustion product such as gas, smoke and embers.

A few facts about fires that you should know: 

  • Yearly, nearly 3,800 people die in fire related deaths. Yearly, approximately 18,300 people are injured in fires. 
  • Smoking is the number one cause of fire deaths in the US. The second most common cause is from the misuse of heating equipment. 
  • Arson is the third most common cause of home fires. Arson in commercially operated buildings is a common reason for fire deaths and injuries in those types of properties. 
  • Fire can suck all the oxygen out of a room and fill it with poisonous gases before flames even enter a room. 

Understanding how a fire is constructed and can spread is important to learning how to protect yourself. If you have questions on how to protect yourself and your business/properties from death, injury and damage, contact us at County Fire Protection at www.county-fire.com. 

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