Fires Start and Stop Based on the Same Root Causes | SERVPRO® of Hershey/Swatara
You may not remember exactly what a tetrahedron is, so let’s review, because hey, that’s the kind of thorough treatment you’ve surely come to expect from SERVPRO. A tetrahedron is like a pyramid, but with a triangular base—and thus one fewer side. It consists of four triangular sides, all equal.
The fire tetrahedron is so named because it represents the four equal elements that must be present for fire to ignite and grow.
Without all these elements working together, a fire will stop—which clues us in about some important fire safety truths.
<h34-things-a-fire-needs-to-live">The 4 Things a Fire Needs to Live
Fuel. Fire has a ravenous appetite. Put simply, there’s got to be something to burn. Be it wood or other organic material, or manmade substances—if there’s going to be a fire, there must be something for it to consume.
Heat. Having consumable materials isn’t enough for fire to start—those materials have to be heated to a level at which ignition becomes inevitable.
Oxygen. Fires don’t exactly breathe, but they consume oxygen the same as you, only at an incredibly rapid rate, leaving behind only carbon monoxide for nearby people to take in. This oxygen is a vital need for any fire.
Chemical Chain Reaction. This part of the tetrahedron is the least simple to explain, but a chain reaction has to happen, which essentially is the uninterrupted continuation of the previous elements interacting with each other.
<h34-ways-to-stop-a-fire">The 4 Ways to Stop a Fire
Cool it. An effective way to stop fire quickly is to cool its fuel source with water. Restoring the thermal balance of the material makes the rate of heat unable to compete at which the rate the material cools. You have to use a lot of water to restore that balance, though, because some of it sublimates as it hits the hot surface.
Smother it. You know that thing the cool kids do where they lick their fingers and smush them together on a wick to put out a candle? That’s a combination of cooling and smothering. Any way you can cut off the oxygen supply to a hungry fire, you can use to smother it. Even when you stop, drop and roll, that’s how you’re stopping a fire on your clothing.
Starve it. This one might seem overly simple, but it’s effective all the same. If either a fire runs out of material it can consume, or consumable materials are removed from the fire’s path, there remains nothing for it to burn, and it will have no choice but to diminish.
Interrupt the chain reaction. Fires can be stopped from the inside, with the application of the proper chemicals. Gases like halon (which is no longer produced because of its adverse impact on the environment) are able to trip up the repetitive reaction the fire requires, thus putting a stop to it without water or smothering it.
If the fire tetrahedron makes a wreck of your home or business, we’re ready around the clock to help you recover. Contact SERVPRO anytime for fast, thorough cleanup and recovery after a fire.