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Stages of combustion: flaming stages (see pictures from lab)

Pre-heating temperature of the fuel is raised to the point where gases start to
volatize
Pre-ignition volatile materials in the fuel are vaporized
Flaming the ignition temperature of the fuel is reached and combustion begins
Transition fuel is partially consumed by combustion while flaming continues in
portions of the fuel resulting in initiation of smoldering and smoke generation
Smoldering combustion of the fuel is essentially complete where oxygen is
available and smoldering continues resulting in smoke generation
Glowing a stage of combustion where oxygen is limited
The four most important stages of combustion for prescribed burners are,
pre-ignition (fuel is about to burst into flame)
flaming active combustion
transition smoke generation begins
smoldering residual smoke production
Suppressing fire and smoke generation (segment on Suppression)
When a wildfire has started, we try to remove the oxygen side of the triangle by
smothering the fire with a fire retardant, foam, dirt or water in a fine spray or
fog. They will replace the oxygen around the fuel affecting one side of the fire
triangle. They also absorb heat and thus also alter the heat side of the
triangle. Retardants will coat the fuel and protect it from the heat even after the
water has evaporated. They also inhibit the flaming combustion by chemical
action. Foams also coat the fuel and last longer than water. They reduce heat as
well as supply of oxygen to the fuel. They will adhere to vertical fuel and can be
easily applied by ground units.
Water absorbs vast amounts of heat, especially when applied as a fog. Each
droplet absorbs a large amount of heat which turns the water into a hot gas or vapor
(steam). The hot steam is then dispersed by the wind into the
atmosphere. However, water is heavy and it is difficult to deliver it to the fireline
in inaccessible areas. There is also the possibility of running out at the most
inappropriate time and losing the fire.
In forest conditions, one of the more important approaches to suppression of
wildfires is removal of the third side of the triangle--Fuel. The fuel is removed by
building a fireline thus separating the fuels. When the wildfire burns up to the
fireline, no more fuel is available and the fire goes out. The fire line is usually
constructed with a tractor-plow unit or by hand. (In the Western part of the United
States, bulldozers and handcrews are used because of the steep, rocky
conditions.) In some areas, helitack crews and specialized ground equipment are
used.
Removing Fuel
Removing the fuel source is the most common method of attacking wildfires. This
method does not extinguish the fire. The fire continues to burn until the fuel inside

the fireline is consumed. Removal of fuel in the path of the fire prevents the fire
from spreading. A slowly advancing fire burning sparse ground fuels may be
checked by constructing a fireline down to mineral soil. A hot, fast-running fire
may require several firelines, burning out the fuel between the firelines and the fire
or a combination of both.
Good firefighting procedure is often a skillful combination of removing fuel, heat, and
oxygen. Therefore, when you tackle a going fire, you should consider how best you can use
.personnel and equipment to remove one or all of the sides of the fire triangle