How a Fire Starts

Posted on June 23rd, 2019 by ContentEditor

So much of fire education revolves around fire prevention and fire protection. We follow all the rules on how to keep our homes and offices safe. We check off all the important items on the list.  And that is 100% the right and wise thing to do. But we don’t often explore or educate on how exactly fires are started. A little bit of understanding in this department can go a long way in fire prevention. By knowing how a fire starts, we’re given the knowledge of why we don’t do certain things and why we should do others.  And, as our understanding is broadened, we can probably come up with new ways to keep our environments even safer. Today we’re talking about how fires start (and, full disclosure – why flameproofing is such a vital protective measure).

In order for a fire to ignite and be sustained, it needs 3 things: oxygen, heat, and fuel. Without all 3 of those items being present, a fire will not get off the ground. Think back to when you’re sitting around a campfire. You need the match to get the fire started (heat). You need something to burn like paper or wood (fuel). And when you want to put it out, you smother it with water or sand, eliminating the oxygen source.

If this fire is somewhere where it’s not supposed to be, like a home or a building, a fire can grow out of control very quickly and easily. After the initial start of the fire (which is called ignition),  the next stage is flamespread, when the flames rapidly move over the surfaces. As the fire grows, the burning materials release more violate gas, which only fuels the fire even more. The 3rd stage is flashover, and that is when the gas and air reach a critical point and the flames are no longer localized to just the burning materials; instead, the fire ‘blows up’ into every direction. After that blow-up, it’s a steady burn until pretty much everything is destroyed, which is the final stage – total combustion.

This is why flameproofing is such a critical step in fire safety. When fire retardants are applied to a surface. it’s removing 2 of the 3  elements needed to start a fire (oxygen and fuel). When the flames (heat) come in contact with an object that’s been treated with flame repellents, carbon dioxide and nitrogen are released. This reaction keeps oxygen away from the fuel (the treated materials) as the carbon dioxide creates a barrier; the nitrogen also plays an important role and displaces the oxygen, helping to smother the fire.

As a result of this, a carbon char forms, which creates a non-combustible barrier between the flames and the object.  Basically, an insulated airspace is created between the fuel and the carbon char, which is protecting the materials from the flames and from providing more fuel for the fire. Not only does this increase the distance between the treated materials and the flames, but it will also trap a significant amount of the toxic gases that are emitted, which addresses the leading cause of death from fire – smoke inhalation.

In understanding how a fire starts, it’s plain to see why fire retardants are so effective and are such a necessary protective measure from the damages and devastation that fires cause. At NYC Flameproofing, we are dedicated to using our flameproofing techniques to protect NYC and all of the Metro NYC area from the tragic results of fire. If your business has questions about fire retardants or flameproofing, please call us today. We would love to speak with you and come up with a custom plan for your business.  We offer free estimates, so please call us today! 1-(800) 291-0904

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