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Basic Fire Safety

Basic Fire Safety Awareness Course Notes


Concepts Safety Services Pvt. Ltd.

L-47, Street No.-7, 2nd Floor, Near V 2 Mall, Mahipalpur Extn,
New Delhi -110037

Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of
combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Fire in its most
common form can result in conflagration, which has the potential to cause
physical damage through burning. The negative effects of fire include water
contamination, soil erosion, atmospheric pollution and hazard to life and
property. Fire hazards are referred to as threats to fire safety. This hazard may be
a situation that increases the possibility of a fire to occur or may hinder escape in
the event of a fire.
Triangle of Fire
One way of looking at combustion is in terms of the triangle of combustion. It is
considered that for combustion to occur, three factors are necessary:

Combustion will continue as long as these three factors are present

Presence of fuel vapour
Natural gas
Paints Varnishes
Vegetable oils
Charcoal Wood Paper
Waxes Plastics Sugar Grain
Metals Rubber P/U foams

Presence of oxygen
o Atmospheric Oxygen
o Oxydising agents
o Other chemicals (Permanganates, Acids, Chlorine, Fluorine, etc)

Presence of heat/ source of ignition

o Open flame
o Hot surfaces
o Sparks and Friction
o Chemical reactions
Key Terms
When a combustible material is heated, it gets hotter; its temperature rises. As it
gets hotter it will begin to give off flammable vapours. When it is producing
enough vapour to Flash when a flame is applied it is said to have reached Flash
Flash Point Flash Point is the lowest temperature at which there is sufficient
vaporisation of a combustible material to produce a vapour, which will flash
momentarily when a flame is applied.
If the combustible material continues to be heated to even higher temperatures,
there will be enough flammable vapour given off for it to continue burning if a
flame is applied. It is said to have reached Fire Point.
Fire Point Fire Point is the lowest temperature at which the heat from the
combustion of a burning vapour is capable of producing sufficient vapour to
enable combustion to continue'.
The difference between flash point and fire point is that the flash point
temperature is only required to produce vapour to enable a momentary flash to
take place, whereas the fire point temperature has to be high enough to produce
sufficient vapour so that the combustible material continues to burn after the
ignition source has been taken away.
If, instead of igniting the material, we now allow it to get even hotter so that the
vapours coming off it are visible, the material will soon burst into flame without a
source of ignition being introduced. It has now reached its Auto-Ignition
Auto-Ignition Temperature The lowest temperature at which the combustible
material will ignite spontaneously, that is the substance will burn without the
introduction of a flame or other ignition source. This is sometimes referred to as
the ignition temperature.
Spontaneous combustion
Certain materials, especially organic materials based on carbon, may react with
oxygen at room temperature.
If the fuel is a good thermal insulator, the heat generated in this way cannot
escape and the temperature rises. This increases the rate of reaction and the
situation escalates.
Eventually the auto-ignition temperature for the material is reached and true
combustion commences; a fire has broken out.

Alternatively, the action of bacteria on certain organic materials can cause a rise
in temperature eventually leading to active combustion.
A fine state of sub-division, as in flour, powdered coal and some metals, could
also lead to spontaneous combustion.
The thermal insulation factor is of great importance in this type of combustion.
Without this insulation, the heat would escape and there would be no fire.
Flammable Liquids with a flash point between 320C and 550C
Highly flammable Liquids with a flash point below 320C

Causes of Fire
Fires in workplaces start for many different reasons. Some of the most common
causes of workplace fires are:

Electrical equipment faulty wiring, overloaded conductors,

misused equipment and the incorrect use of electrical
equipment in inappropriate environments.

Deliberate ignition many workplace fires are started deliberately. In some

cases the workplace has been targeted, e.g. by a disgruntled employee or an
unhappy customer; in other cases it has not, e.g. youths playing with

Hot work any work involving the use of naked flames (e.g. a propane torch
or oxy-acetylene cutting equipment) or that creates a significant ignition
source (e.g. arc-welding and grinding).

Smoking in particular carelessly discarded

materials such as cigarette butts and matches.

Heating appliances like electric fan heaters and space

heaters, especially when left unattended.

Unsafe use and storage of flammable liquids and gases, e.g. petrol, acetone
and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Static sparks can be generated which
could ignite a flammable vapour.

Mechanical heat generated by friction between moving parts such as a

motor and its bearings, or cold work generating sparks.

Chemical reactions can also generate heat e.g. oxidisers

Consequences of Fire
Consequences may be split into three main groups


Human Harm
o Fire has the potential for major loss of life due to direct contact with
heat and flame or from the effects of smoke and toxic gases.
Economic Loss
o Commercial losses from fire are substantial even though recent
workplace injury and death has been low. When fire do occur in the
workplace the organization is usually so badly affected it does not
resume business again.
Environmental Degradation
o Our local and wider environment are polluted and deteriorated at
the time of occurrence of fire in workplace. Air pollution may arise
due to harmful and toxic gases released as result of fire in
workplace. Water and land pollution also increased due to debris of
collapsed building and structure. Even though sudden increase in
temperature may disturb natural cycles of environment.

Method of Fire Spread

Heat travels from regions of high temperature to regions of lower temperature.
This is true no matter how small the temperature difference. There are four
methods by which heat may be transmitted, these are:

Direct burning

1. Direct burning the simplest method of fire spread

where a flame front moves along or through the
burning material. For example, set fire to the corner
of a piece of paper and then watch the flame front
spread across the paper.

2. Convection the principle that hot air rises

and cold air sinks. Hot gases generated by the fire rise straight up from the fire:
Inside a building these hot gases will hit the ceiling and then spread out
to form a layer underneath the ceiling. When these hot gases touch any
combustible material (such as a wooden curtain pole) they may heat that
material up sufficiently so that it bursts into flame.

3. Conduction the principle that heat can be transmitted through solid

materials. Some metals, in particular, conduct heat very efficiently (e.g. copper).
Any pipes, wires, ducts or services running from room to room can act as
conduits for heat and spread the fire.

4. Radiation heat energy can be radiated through

air in the form of infrared heat waves which travel in straight lines (just like
speed of light) and can pass through transparent surfaces (such as glass).
Radiant heat generated by a fire shines onto the nearby surfaces and is
absorbed. If the material heats up sufficiently it can burst into flames.

Types of Fire - The 5 Fire Classifications

It is very important to understand the five different classifications, or types of
fire. As fires are classified according to the type of fuel that is burning if the
wrong type of fire extinguisher is used, a dangerous situation may arise.
Class A
Class A type fires involve combustible materials like wood, paper,
textiles, straw, coal, car tyres. They are often found in commercial
and home buildings.

Class B

Class B type fires are caused by combustion of liquids or materials

that liquify for example fats, oils, petrol, paints alcohol and

Class C
Class C type fires are caused by combustion of gases for example:
hydrogen, natural gas, methane, propane and acetylene.

Class D
Class D fires involve combustible metals such as sodium,
magnesium, aluminium, lithium and potassium. These types of
fires require special fire extinguishers.

Class F

Class F fires involve combustible oils and grease commonly found

in commercial kitchens. The new cooking formulations used for
commercial food preparation require a special wet chemical
extinguishing agent that is specially suited for extinguishing these
hot fires that have the ability to re-flash. Never use other
pressurised extinguisher types, as water, foam, powder or CO2 on
burning cooking oil, as the pressure jet might carry the burning oil
and spread the fire!

Fire Risk Assessment

Fire risk assessment is a legal requirement for every workplace. Even a small fire
could have fatal consequences and will have serious financial implications for
any business.

Fire safety risk assessment

Identify fire hazards

sources of ignition such as naked flames
sources of fuel such as flammable liquids
sources of oxygen such as the air around us

Identify people at risk

people in and around the premises and
people who are especially at risk

Evaluate, remove or reduce, and protect from risk

Evaluate the risk of a fire starting
Evaluate the risk to people from a fire
Remove or reduce fire hazards
Remove or reduce the risks to people from a fire
Protect people by providing for precautions

Record, plan, inform, instruct and


Record any major findings and action you have taken

Discuss and work with other responsible people
Prepare an emergency plan
Inform and instruct relevant people
Provide training

Review your fire-risk assessment regularly
Make changes where necessary

Remember to review your fire-risk assessment regularly

Extinguishing Methods
Basically to extinguish fire using either the portable fire extinguishers or fire hose
lines, we could either remove any 1, 2 or 3 elements of fire by:

Cooling the fire using pressurized water fire extinguisher or water hose
lines for class A fires. This is removal of the heat element.


Smothering Blanketing, replacing or removal of oxygen from the fire using

carbon dioxide for Class C fires, foams for class B fires


Starvation Removal of the fuel like burning gas/ oil pipeline, shut off main
valve and valve leading to next pipeline.

Fire Prevention, Protection and Precaution

Fire Prevention is a process to educate the public to take precautionary actions

to prevent fires and be taught about surviving such fire. It is a proactive method
of reducing emergencies and the damage caused by fire.
1. Smoking and nonsmoking areas should be clearly posted and strictly
2. Rig heaters must be approved before use.
3. Investigate all unusual odors, smoke or gases. Determine the source
and promptly report the problem.
4. There should be an approved hot work permit filed before any welding
and cutting Operation begin
5. Matches and all other smoking material should be left in places
designated safe for smoking.
6. Oil, diesel fuel or other flammables should not be allowed to collect
around, or under, engines, cellar or similar places.
7. Avoid spillage during refueling or fuel transfer. Static electricity can
ignite a fire.
8. Flammable or combustible liquids should be stored in a proper container
in Designated, posted areas.
9. Do not overload electrical circuits.
10 Make sure all liquefied petroleum lines, fittings, and valves are leak
Fire Protection is the study and practice of mitigating the unwanted effects of
fires. It includes the study of behaviour, suppression and investigation of fire and
its appropriate emergencies. Fire prevention personnel like fire-fighters, fire
investigators, are called to mitigate, investigate and learn from the damage of a
fire. Lessons learned from fires are studied and used as references for the
improvement of building and fire codes.
Compartmentation - Splitting a building into separate sealed areas made of fireresisting materials.
Restricts the spread of fire and smoke within a building depends upon:
use of the building
building height
floor area
compartment volume
Fire Precaution is measures taken to reduce the risk in the event of fire.
Fire/smoke detection
Fire alarms
Means of escape
Means of fighting the fire
Emergency evacuation procedures

Fire/Smoke detection The function of fire detectors is to detect one or

more changes in the protected environment indicating the development of
a fire condition. They may operate:

a. When the invisible products of

combustion are being released;
b. When smoke is being produced:
c. When temperature in the vicinity of
fire rises rapidly or reaches a predetermined figure.

Fire Alarms The purely manual means for

raising an alarm involve the use of basic devices which include the
a. Rotary gongs which are sounded by simply leading the handle
around the rim of the gong
b. Hand strikers e.g. iron triangles suspended from a wall
accompanied by a metal bar used to strike the triangle and produce
a loud clanging noise
c. Handbells
d. Whistles.
These devices are normally found in a readily available location on the
walls of corridors, entrance halls and staircase
landings. The call points in a manual/electric system
are invariably small, wall mounted boxes.
They are designed to operate either: automatically,
when the glass front is broken, or when the glass
front is broken AND the button pressed in. The
majority of available models are designed to
operate immediately the glass front is broken.

Means of escape A means of escape is a continuous path along which a

person can travel from wherever he/she may be in the building and reach
safety by his own unaided efforts.
Suitability of means of escape:

Number of employees to use it

Any people with special needs
Fire resistance of structure
Position/Number of escape routes
Contents which are readily ignitable
Open wells, open staircases
Use of building

Means of fighting the fire

1. Portable extinguishers e.g. hand held or on a trolley
2. Fixed installations e.g. Hose reel, flood, sprinklers
1. Fire Extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers can be divided into four categories according to
the extinguishing medium they contain, namely:


Carbon dioxide

Extinguishers are normally operated by the use of gas pressure in the

upper part of the container which forces the extinguishing medium out
through a nozzle.
The required pressure is produced by one of the following methods:
GAS CARTRIDGE. The pressure is produced by means of
compressed or (more commonly) liquefied gas released from a gas
cartridge fitted into the extinguisher.
STORED PRESSURE. The gas is stored with the extinguishing
medium in the body of the extinguisher, which is thus permanently
In the case of carbon dioxide extinguishers, the gas is itself provides
the pressure within the extinguisher.
Colour of extinguishers
It is recommended that extinguishers be wholly red
with a coloured area as follows, for easy
Carbon dioxide

Signal red
Signal red



Signal red with blue

Signal red with black

Fire Blankets A method of tackling small fires, e.g. in fat fryers, is by

smothering with a fire blanket. This is usually available packed into a small
container designed to give a quick release to the blanket.BS 6575:
specification for fire blankets specifies two types of blanket:
(a) LIGHT DUTY for extinguishing small fires in containers of cooking fats
or oils, or fires in clothing worn by people
(b) HEAVY DUTY for industrial applications, to resist penetration by molten
metal e.g. in cutting or welding operations, and to protect against
radiant heat

2. Fixed installations e.g. Hose reel, flood, sprinklers

Hose Real -When dealing with small outbreaks of fire, the hose reel
equipment is often the most effective, depending on the type of fire.
As it delivers only water, its use is restricted to Class A fires.
Automatic Sprinkler System A network of water pipes with spray heads
normally at ceiling height is installed in vulnerable areas. Large
coverage of water to prevent the spread of fire in large open plan
buildings where compartmentalisation is not practical. its use is
restricted to Class A fires.
Total Flooding System A high concentration of an extinguishing gas
(usually carbon dioxide) is automatically dumped in an enclosed area.

Emergency Evacuation Procedure

Means of raising the alarm
Contacting the emergency services
Fire evacuation routes
Fire evacuation signs
Who are and the role of fire
Assembly points/place of safety/role
When not to tackle a fire
Types of extinguishers
Prevention of spread of fire e.g. closing fire doors
Not to use lifts
Evacuation in an orderly fashion
Prevention of return
Disabled evacuation procedure

Fire Extinguishers Practical

Basic anatomy of fire extinguisher

How to use a portable fire extinguisher

How to Use a Portable Fire Extinguisher

It is easy to remember how to use a fire extinguisher if you remember the

acronym, PASS.
Pull the pin
This will allow you to discharge the

Aim at the base of the fire

Hit the fuelif you aim at the flames, the
extinguishing agent will pass right through
and do no good.

Squeeze the top handle

This depresses a button that releases the
pressurized extinguishing agent.

Sweep from side-to-side until the fire is

completely out.
Start using the extinguisher from a safe
distance away and then slowly move forward.
Once the fire is out, keep an eye on the area
in case it re-ignites.