FIRE BASICS
Fire is the third leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States, yet most people ignore it.  Knowing the basic principles of fire can help lower this number.

HOW FIRES START

Fire is a chemical reaction involving the rapid oxidation or burning of a fuel.  It requires three elements to occur.

OXYGEN HEAT FUEL

These three elements make up what is commonly called the fire triangle. Fire can only occur when the three elements are present and in the proper conditions and proportions. If any one of these factors is taken away, fire cannot begin or in the case of an already burning fire, extinguishment will occur.

OXYGEN - The air we breathe is about 21 % oxygen.  Fire requires an atmosphere with at least 16 % oxygen.  This means that oxygen is always present in the home.  If, however, you can separate the other two elements, you will have taken the first step towards effective fire prevention.

HEAT - Heat is the energy necessary to increase the temperature of the fuel to a point where sufficient vapors are given off for ignition to occur.  Examples of possible heat sources include:

STOVES
HEATING APPLIANCES
FIREPLACES
DAMAGED ELECTRICAL WIRING

FUEL - Fuel can be any combustible material in any state of matter - solid, liquid, or gas.  Most solids and liquids become a vapor or gas before they will burn.  Examples of possible fuels located within a common home include:

CLOTHING
FURNITURE
CURTAINS
FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS

Understanding the basic principles behind how fire starts can give you an edge...in PREVENTING fires.  Never FIGHT a fire if:

- the fire is spreading beyond the spot where it started.
- you can't fight the fire with your back to an escape exit.
- the fire can block your only escape.
- you don't have adequate fire-fighting equipment and training.

In ANY of these situations, DON'T FIGHT THE FIRE YOURSELF.  CALL FOR HELP!


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