There is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.
Understanding the "Fire Triangle" is the most basic concept in Fire Prevention and Control. In order for any fire to occur, three critical elements must be present:
1. A fuel or combustible material.
2. An ignition or heat source.
3. Oxygen in sufficient quantities to support combustion.When all three of these elements come together, combustion is the result. However, if only one of these elements is removed from contact with the other two, the threat of fire can be minimized. Thus, if oxygen, heat or the fuel supply can be removed, there is minimal risk of fire.
Oxygen, heat, and fuel are frequently referred to as the "fire triangle." Add in the fourth element, the chemical reaction, and you actually have a fire "tetrahedron." The important thing to remember is: take any of these four things away, and you will not have a fire or the fire will be extinguished.