Heat - The temperature at which a material produces a vapor. And the temperature at which the vapor will burn.
Fuel - The fuel for the fire may be a solid, liquid, or gas. The type and quantity of the fuel will determine which method should be used to extinguish the fire.
Oxygen - Fires will burn vigorously in any atmosphere of at least 20 percent oxygen.
Together these three elements are called the fire triangle. Removal of one side will put the fire out.
Categorization of Fires
Fires are categorized into classes based on the type of fuel that is burned:
Class A Fires: Ordinary combustibles such as paper, cloth, wood, rubber, and many plastics.
Class B Fires: Flammable liquids ( oils, gasoline) and combustible liquids (charcoal lighter, kerosene). These fuels burn only at the surface because oxygen cannot penetrate the depth of the fluid. Only the vapor burns when ignited.
Class C Fires: Electrical equipment (wiring, motors). When the electricity is removed the fire is treated as a Class A fire.
Class D Fires: Combustible metals (aluminum, magnesium, titanium).
Fire Extinguishers are available in many sizes and can be class specific. You can purchase extinguishers that are a combination ABC. These extinguisher can be used on all classes of fires except the Class D fire, which is generally an industrial fire.
To use an extinguisher you follow the acronym PASS. Pull the pin, Aim the extinguisher, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep the fire at its base. This skill is taught in our CERT class.
It is recommended that homes have at least 1 extinguisher for each level of the home. A 10# ABC extinguisher for the home and garage. You may choose 5# or 21/2# extinguishers for your vehicles and sheds.
Fire prevention is the key to safety. Limit the amount of hazardous materials in storage. Isolate products in approved containers, store them inside enclosed cabinets, and protect them from sources of ignition. Eliminate products that are no longer needed. Separate incompatible materials (chlorine products and ammonia). A leaking or spilled gallon gas container in a garage can produce 100's of gallons of explosive vapors. When the garage door opener is activated an electrical spark can cause an explosion and fire.
Electrical hazards can be reduced or eliminated if:
- Avoid the electrical octopus. Eliminate tangles of electrical cords. Don’t overload electrical outlets.
- Don’t run electrical cords under carpets.
- Replace broken or frayed cords immediately.
- Maintain electrical appliances properly. Repair or replace malfunctioning appliances.
- Learn the proper way to shut off you electricity, and gas.
- Secure your water heater to a wall in two places: 1/3 form the top and 1/3 from the bottom
Family Escape Plan
Develop and practice a family escape plan. Install and maintain fire alarms. You need to have at least two exits from every room. Designate a location to meet in the event of a fire. Teach family members to stay low and touch closed doors with the back of hand before opening to feel for heat. Learn not to burn. Practice stop, drop and roll. Teach children not to play with matches.