Uttar Pradesh Fire Service
Government Of Uttar Pradesh

Do You Know About Fire Triangle

The fire triangle or combustion triangle is a simple model for understanding the necessary ingredients for most fires

The triangle illustrates the three elements a fire needs to ignite: heat, fuel, and an oxidizing agent (usually oxygen). A fire naturally occurs when the elements are present and combined in the right mixture, and a fire can be prevented or extinguished by removing any one of the elements in the fire triangle. For example, covering a fire with a fire blanket removes the "oxygen" part of the triangle and can extinguish a fire.

(A) Fire Tetrahedron
The fire tetrahedron represents the addition of a component, the chemical chain reaction, to the three already present in the fire triangle. Once a fire has started, the resulting exothermic chain reaction sustains the fire and allows it to continue until or unless at least one of the elements of the fire is blocked. Foam can be used to deny the fire the oxygen it needs. Water can be used to lower the temperature of the fuel below the ignition point or to remove or disperse the fuel. Halon can be used to remove free radicals and create a barrier of inert gas in a direct attack on the chemical reaction responsible for the fire. Combustion is the chemical reaction that feeds a fire more heat and allows it to continue. When the fire involves burning metals like lithium, magnesium, titanium, etc. (known as a class-D fire), it becomes even more important to consider the energy release. The metals react faster with water than with oxygen and thereby more energy is released. Putting water on such a fire results in the fire getting hotter or even exploding. Carbon dioxide extinguishers are ineffective against certain metals such as titanium. Therefore, inert agents (e.g. dry sand) must be used to break the chain reaction of metallic combustion. In the same way, as soon as one of the four elements of the tetrahedron is removed, combustion stops.

(B) Oxidizer
The oxidizer is the other reactant of the chemical reaction. In most cases, it is the ambient air, and in particular one of its components, oxygen (O2). By depriving a fire of air, it can be extinguished; for example, when covering the flame of a small candle with an empty glass, fire stops; to the contrary, if air is blown over a wood fire with bellows, the fire is activated by the introduction of more air. In certain torches, dioxygen is introduced to improve combustion. In certain cases such as some explosives, the oxidizer and combustible are the same (e.g., nitroglycerin, an unstable molecule that has oxidizing parts in the same molecule as the oxidizeable parts). Reaction is initiated by an activating energy, in most cases, it is heat. Several examples include friction, as in case of matches, heating an electrical wire, a flame (propagation of fire), or a spark (from a lighter or from any starting electrical device). There are also many other ways to bring sufficient activation energy including electricity, radiation, and pressure, all of which will lead to a temperature rise. In most cases, heat production enables self-sustainability of the reaction, and enables a chain reaction to grow. The temperature at which a liquid produces sufficient vapor to get a flammable mix with self-sustainable combustion is called its flash-point.