Fire Triangle

The Fire Triangle

Before a fire can start, three components have to be present in sufficient quantities.  These form a structure known as the fire triangle. A fire triangle is made of Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. It needs all these elements in place for the fire to start and with that if one of these elements is removed, the fire will go out.


Heat this is the ignition source. Anything that gives off heat can start a fire.  It does not have to be a fire (Fire starting a fire wont make sense). It can be a spark, it can be over heating, it can be arcing.

It is important to be aware that the source of heat can not only be equipment and activities which, by design, involve the production of heat, but may also include a variety of other circumstances with which heat may not be expected at all. Equipment that generate heat are welding sets or welding torches, soldering irons, heaters, heating coils, heating plates, boilers, hot plates, electrical equipment, irons, engines and more.  Matches and smoking are also part of this. Imagine the heat from the sun during dry hot weather starting bush fires. Electrical equipment may be overloaded and then overheat, and static electricity or an electrical short-circuit can cause sparking.  Heat is also generated by friction, as when two pieces of metal rub together without lubrication.


The fuel for a fire does not have to be a recognised fuel in the sense of, say, petrol or gas.  It may be any combustible material. It can be paper, wood or even bushes.


The oxygen necessary for combustion is usually supplied from the surrounding air. There is already 21% oxygen in the environment. More makes it even easier to catch fire. Think of inert environments – we make environments inert so that fires don’t occur.



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