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What is the Fire Triangle?

3 March 2021

What is the Fire Triangle?

The fire triangle is an effective way of summing up the fundamentals of fire, and it’s often used to help children understand how fire works. However, despite its use as an educational tool for younger people, everyone can benefit from an understanding of the core elements of fire – it can even save lives. In this article, Fire & Security Group are going to break down the fire triangle and how it’s used.

The fire triangle displays the three elements of fire – oxygen, heat, and fuel. Without all three of these elements, a fire cannot start. It’s important, then, to establish what falls into each category, and where the risks lie in our homes and workplaces so that we can take precautions against them where necessary.



Oxygen Fires

Fires do not need a lot of oxygen to feed on, and as such it’s important to know when and how we can stop oxygen from making a fire worse. Oxygen speeds up the chemical reaction between the heat source and the fuel, which exacerbates the fire – this is why you shouldn’t open a window during a fire. 


Fuel Fires

Simply put, fuel is the material that burns during a fire. Different fuels burn at different speeds and intensities, and they require specific equipment in order to minimise and nullify their fires. Different types of fuel include:

  • Wood
  • Paper
  • Oil
  • Paint
  • Petrol

Depending on the type of fuel that is burning, a fire will be classified in a certain way; fires involving paper and wood, for example, are Class A fires. There are one or more types of extinguishers designed for tackling each type of fire – Class A fires require water extinguishers, whereas Class B fires (flammable liquids) require foam extinguishers. Each extinguisher is colour-coded so you can identify its type and ensure you’re using the correct one. Click here to read our in-depth guide on the different types of fire extinguishers.


Heat Fires

Without heat, a fire cannot start. As well as being a key factor in a fire starting, heat also plays a role in fire spreading; flammable vapours from the burning material combust due to the presence of heat. Fire spreads when the heat present removes the moisture from the area surrounding the flammable materials – this works to heat up the fuel before the flames actually reach it, meaning that ignition (and spread) is much quicker.


Extinguishing a Fire

For a fire to be properly, permanently extinguished, one of the elements of the fire triangle must be removed. Different fire fighting methods result in the removal of different elements of the fire, which is why certain tactics are more suitable for some fires than others. 

  • Removal of the burning material – the fuel – will result in a smouldering fire as there is nothing to burn. 
  • Removal of the source of heat – perhaps through the use of a water extinguisher – will cool the fire down and it will die. 
  • By removing the oxygen – using a fire blanket or foam extinguisher – the fire cannot breathe and will go out.

It’s important that you understand the different types of fires and the ways to combat them if you ever need to combat a fire yourself. You should only attempt to combat a fire if you have been trained in the use of extinguishers, you have the right type of extinguisher to hand and the fire is not too large. If the fire has been burning for some time or if it’s too severe, evacuate the building and call 999 immediately. 


Fire Extinguishers

There are seven types of fire extinguishers, each one containing a different substance designed for nullifying certain fuels and classes of fire. Through a fire risk assessment, we can ascertain which types of extinguishers are most suitable for your property, before installing them in optimal locations so that you’re fully equipped to extinguish a fire, should you need to.


Fire Safety Training

For businesses and commercial buildings, fire safety training is a key component of any fire safety program. Even basic knowledge of fire safety can save lives, so having detailed knowledge about fire and how to act in an emergency can minimise injury, loss of life and damage to property. 

Fire and Security Group offer comprehensive fire safety training services to customers across the UK, ensuring you and your staff are well-trained and prepared for a fire emergency. From evacuation plans and fire drills to the operation of fire extinguishers, let our experts provide you with crucial safety knowledge and skills. For further information about our fire safety training, fire extinguishers and fire alarm installation, fire risk assessments and more, simply contact us today.


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