Safety Matters – You Consciously Cause Fire to Spread Without Knowing It!
We have previously discussed how fire starts. The next important thing to look at about fire is how it spreads from point of ignition. It probably has never occurred to you how you can cause the spread of fire without knowing it. Fire usually spread through a workplace, home, office, market, church, and school by the following ways:
Ø Direct combustion/burning i.e. setting fire directly to combustible material e.g. setting fire to a piece of paper.
Ø Convection i.e. resulting from heat transfer to a flammable material. When hot air rises, cold air sinks. A hot gas generated by fire usually rises directly from the fire and spread in a building (indoors) to the ceiling where it forms a layer underneath. When sufficient heat is produced the ceiling or curtains which are combustible materials can burst into flames. In the case where the fire occurs outdoors, the convection currents contains burning embers that are carried on the currents until the air cools and the embers drop to the ground. This is the common way forest fires jump over footpaths and continue burning.
Ø Conduction i.e. heat travelling through an object or solid material. Some metals are good conductors of heat. Therefore any pipe, ducts, wire or services that run from a building to another have the potential for heat and can spread the fire.
Ø Radiation i.e. heat travelling through a space to a combustible material. When the radiated heat is absorbed sufficiently by the flammable material, it can burst into flames. For instance, if you find yourself standing in front of a mirror which radiating heat from the sun, you’ll feel that part of your skin burning whether you’re wearing clothes or not.
The only way to ensure fire doesn’t start and spread in your home and workplace is to ensure proper storage and segregation of materials into their proper categories or compartments. It is extremely important to read labels on items you purchase either for storage or one-time usage to acquaint yourself with the hazards they pose before attempting to use or store them. For instance if you find inscriptions on labels such as ‘highly flammable’ or ‘extremely flammable’ it means the content can be ignited even at a low ambient temperature.
Fire spreads by principle of direct burning, convection, conduction and radiation.
Disallow all conduits that cause fire to spread.