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Causes and Effects of domestic Fires:

Fire outbreaks and disasters are caused by many factors, some of which can be blamed on ourselves and others are beyond our control.

A good knowledge of fire, its characteristics and behaviour will enable one to identify any possible fire risks in our homes and enhance our abilities to prepare and to prevent them from occurring and spreading.

Fire in its most common form can result in an inferno, which has the potential to cause physical damage through burning. The negative effects of fire include hazard to life and property, atmospheric pollution, and water contamination.

Fire has been used by humans since time immemorial. It has been used in rituals, in agriculture for clearing land, for cooking, generating heat and light, for signaling, propulsion purposes, smelting, forging, incineration of waste, cremation, and as a weapon or mode of destruction.

Fires start when a inflammable or a combustible material, in combination with a sufficient quantity of oxygen gas or another oxygen-rich compound  is exposed to a source of heat or ambient temperature above the flash point. Fire cannot exist without these elements in place and in the right proportions. For example, an inflammable liquid will start burning only if the fuel and oxygen are in the right proportions.

 Simply put, fire requires fuel, oxygen and heat to burn. These three form what is called the Fire Triangle also known as or combustion triangles or ″fire diamond″.

The fire Triangle

The first element in the fire triangle is heat, which is perhaps the most essential of fire elements. A fire cannot ignite unless it has a certain amount of heat, and it cannot grow without heat either. One of the first things firefighters do to extinguish a fire is to apply a cooling agent — usually water to the heat source.

The flame created by burning keeps the fuel at the ignition temperature, so it continues to burn if there is fuel and oxygen around it. The flame heats any surrounding substances and releases fuel and gases in the process. When the flame ignites the gases, the fire spreads.

Once ignited, a chain reaction must take place whereby fires can sustain their own heat by the further release of heat energy in the process of combustion and may propagate, provided there is a continuous supply of an oxygen and fuel.

This chain reaction added to the Fire Triangle develops into a Fire Tetrahedron and it is this chain reaction is that keeps the fire burning and spreading.

A tetrahedron can be described as a pyramid which is a solid having four plane faces.

Fire Tetrahedron

To stop the spread of a fire therefore, one of these elements must be removed, that is the tetrahedron must be broken. Elimination of any of these elements will extinguish any fire no matter how intense it is. 

 For example, a flame such as from a stove burner can be stopped by any of the following actions:

  • Turning
  • Covering the flame completely, which smothers the flame as the combustion both uses the available oxygen and displaces it from the area around the flame with Carbon dioxide.
  • Application of water, which removes heat from the fire faster than the fire can produce it similarly, blowing hard on a flame will displace the heat of the currently burning gas from its fuel source, to the same end, or
  • Application of a retardant chemical such as Halon to the flame, which retards the chemical reaction itself until the rate of combustion is too slow to maintain the chain reaction.

Causes of Domestic Fires:

Fire in homes can start suddenly and spread quickly, destroying the home, the contents and other surrounding properties and putting lives in danger.

Domestic fires are caused in a variety of ways and the fueling agents are abundant with open flames common and combustible items everywhere.  This makes most of homes to be extremely hazardous places.

However, with common sense and a little planning, we can make our homes safe.

This will be possible if we know what causes the fires and what to do in case of one.

The major causes of domestic fires are:

  • Carelessness
  • Arson
  • Lightning

 

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