Although it may seem that every fire is the same, in fact there can be a lot of variation. From the core of the sun, which burns at 15,000,000°C to log fires and candle flames, fire can come in many different variants, each of which is likely to have a different impact on the area around it. Understanding the differences between fires, and how to deal with the different types, can be crucial to handling an emergency situation.
The burning points of different fires
Fire is hot – that’s the one thing that every single fire has in common. Even the smallest fires can destroy property and damage the human body so contact with flames should always be minimised. However, some fires tend to be much hotter - and much more dangerous – than others.
• Candle flames burn at around 800°C at their core and 1,400°C at the outer core, which is a much higher temperature than many people realise.
• The inside wall of an oven – although not a fire – is a useful comparison, as this reaches temperatures of around 500°C.
• If you have an open fire at home then this is likely to reach a temperature of 600°C, which is great for creating a warming glow in any room.
• If you build a bonfire, whether for fireworks night or any other time of year, then if this has been created with charcoal and wood it will normally burn at temperatures of up to 1,100°C.
For those who remember the Bunsen burner from the science lab at school these too can reach a very high temperature. The hottest part of the Bunsen burner flame is just above the tip of the primary flame – this can reach temperatures of up to 1,500 °C.
The aesthetics of fire
You can also tell a lot about a fire by the colour of the flame – dark flames tend to be burning at lower temperatures. For example, the flames of a fire that are cherry red are normally somewhere between 800°C and 1,000°C. When the flames become paler the fire is getting hotter – bright white flames can indicate a burning point of up to 1,500°C.
Dealing with the different types of fire
Every fire should be dealt with swiftly before it gets the chance to escalate and become more serious. It’s important to have a comprehensive system of fire procedures and protections in place, including:
• Passive fire protection, such as fire resistant floors, walls and doors
• Active fire protection systems, including sprinklers and fire extinguishers
• Evacuation procedures so that everyone in the building knows where to go in the event of a fire
• Fire situation training to ensure that people are as safe as possible during a fire and the building is preserved for as long as possible until the emergency services arrive.
We can help you to create a comprehensive passive fire protection approach for your building – contact us to find out more.