1 December 2023

When working with fire, achieving combustion is a very important task, but also dangerous because the flames can get out of control. the triangle of fire Its function is to inform about this topic, so in this article we explain what this geometric figure is about. In the same way, the components that must be used to achieve combustion and the most common methods of fire prevention are specified.

Meaning of the fire triangle

Fire is one of the most important elements in the history of mankind. Well, it helped in our evolution because it allowed man build items, forge tools and even cook. Despite the fact that its discovery occurred in antiquity, today its properties and uses continue to be studied. Thus, it is now known that the so-called fire triangle must be used to generate combustion.

The combustion triangle or fire triangle is described as a graphic model in which the creation of fire is represented. In this sense, in said figure geometric display elements that are required for combustion to be possible. That is, it is a drawing of a triangle where these components are exposed, in order to help people generate fire.

A triangle is a geometric figure that has three adjacent sides. A different element is shown on each of those sides, which means that this trio must be present. Combustion or fire cannot be achieved if one of them is absent or with weak presence.

What are the components or elements of the fire triangle?

In the triangle of fire, each of the components is equally important as the others, since there must be a homogeneous link. In that sense, they must all be mixed correctly so that the combustion achieves the required reaction. Thus, the triangle of fire expresses that this explosion needs a oxidizer, a fuel and the activation energy.

Fuel is an element or material that has the ability to release energy when it reaches oxidation. This through the heat that is released from combustion. Said fuel can appear in any of the states of matter, that is, liquid, solid or gasis the component that generates carbon dioxide or smoke that spreads in the air.

Here it is valid to use wood, coal or diesel derivatives, as are the gasoline, diesel and kerosene. While, in the bodies of animals, carbohydrates, lipids and proteins must be highlighted as fuel.

Another component is the oxidizer, of which it can be said that it is the most relevant because it achieves combustion. Also called an oxidizing agent, it is a compound that has the ability to oxidize fuel. Therefore, it has the function of carrying out a reaction in which the oxidant increases its electrons and the reducer loses them.

In most cases the oxidizer is the oxygen found in the air, so you don’t have to look for it. So, when looking to start a fire in a campfire or grill, a minimum of oxygen is enough. However, there are combustions in which more power is needed, as is the case with space shuttles, in which liquid oxygen is used. For their part, firearms get the oxygen oxidizer that contains potassium chlorate and potassium nitrate.

The last component is known as activation energy that has the function of producing heat or high temperatures. This energy can be produced in the form of a spark, a heat source, or with an electrical current.

Fire prevention with the fire triangle

However, the fire triangle only shows the components that activate combustion, however, a fourth element was discovered that does not appear in the drawing. In that sense, so that the fire keep burning a chain reaction is required, which is what is responsible for releasing the heat.

That temperature reaches the fuel, therefore, feeds it again, causing a new wave of combustion. It is important to know how to preserve heat, but do not add more fuel as necessary to avoid causing a fire. Should the flames get out of control, one method of prevention is to remove the heat, which is accomplished by cooling the fire with water. This is the most common technique and is frequently seen in firefighters.

Another way to prevent a fire is to cut the Fuel supply, since like this, there is no component that feeds the flames. Firewalls are objects that were designed for this purpose, so it’s the best thing to use.

Lastly, a fire can be prevented or eliminated when the oxygen supply is cut off. This is the most difficult method because this component is in the air. However, it works in specific cases, like when a frying pan catches fire on fire. What you have to do is cut off the access of the oxidizing agent, so by covering the space the fire is suffocated.

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