What Are the Three Elements of The Fire Triangle?

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When a fire breaks out, it is important to know how to combat it. You need to act fast in order to protect yourself, others and your surroundings, and understanding what properties make up a fire is a great way to know how to tackle a blaze when it breaks out. 

The fire triangle does exactly that, helping people understand how fires break out, how they’re sustained and, most importantly, how they can be put out. 

In this month’s article, Hoyles Fire and Safety will explain what the fire triangle is, how it can help in the event of a fire and what you should do if you’re confronted by one.    

Fire Triangle

What is the Fire Triangle?

The fire triangle provides a visual representation of how a fire is caused and sustained, presented in an easy to understand triangular diagram. It focuses on the three core elements that are needed for a fire to thrive, which are heat, oxygen and fuel. 

It sounds obvious, but it’s important to recognise that a fire cannot function without heat. Different materials can ignite at different temperatures, so it’s important to handle combustible materials with care. When a material does combust, it can produce a huge amount of heat, helping a fire to spread.

Fire can’t exist without something to burn and fuel is another intrinsic part of the fire triangle. Fuel can come in many forms, including paper, wood, oil, fabric and more. It is likely that your home or business is full of these materials that can serve as fuel and, as the most difficult element of the triangle to remove, it’s crucial they are stored correctly.        

The final element of the fire triangle is oxygen. The oxygen in the air can help to sustain a fire, with the gas reacting with the fuel and creating heat and CO2.

How Can the Fire Triangle Help With A Fire?

A fire cannot continue without all three of the fire triangle’s elements, so it’s important to understand what they are and how you can remove them, thus eradicating the blaze. 

Applying water, a cooling agent or a fire extinguisher (depending on the type of fire) can remove heat from a fire. In order to take oxygen out of the equation, fire blankets can be used to stifle the blaze. In terms of fuel, the best way to avoid this from becoming a hazard is to store objects that could burn appropriately.  

Properly understanding the fire triangle, and all three elements required for a fire to burn, can help you put a swift finish to it in the unfortunate event that one does break out.

What Fire Extinguisher Should I Use?

The cause of the fire will dictate the type of fire extinguisher you should use to put it out. Different types of extinguishers also address different parts of the fire triangle, so it’s important to know how each one works. 

At Hoyles Fire and Safety Limited, we supply a whole host of fire extinguishers that will keep your property safe. 

Foam fire extinguishers are used to tackle Class A or B fires that have been sparked by materials such as cardboard and wood, as well as flammable liquids like petrol. The foam from the extinguisher will act like a blanket, smothering the flames and removing its oxygen – meaning it won’t be able to reignite. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that water is the solution for all fires, but in fact water fire extinguishers are only appropriate for Class A fires that have been triggered by natural materials like paper, wood, cardboard, textiles and furniture. The water will cool down the fire, removing the heat element of the fire triangle out of the blaze. Remember, never use a water fire extinguisher on an electrical fire. 

If you do come up against an electrical fire, then a CO2 fire extinguisher is the way to go. These types of extinguishers can also be used on Class B fires that are triggered by flammable liquids. If your premises handles these kinds of liquids or includes a significant amount of electrics (such as a computer server room), then it’s always worthwhile having CO2 fire extinguishers nearby. 

Only try and put out a fire if it’s small, manageable and you know you can handle it yourself. If it becomes out of control, then always dial 999 and let the fire brigade take charge. 

Here at Hoyles Fire and Safety Limited, we’re experts in all areas of fire safety and can provide you with fire extinguishers, alarms and training for your employees – all of which can keep you safe. Operating throughout Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield, we’re experienced in helping businesses of all sizes stay protected. To find out more about how we can help your premises, get in touch today.     

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