The dangers of fire

Smoke and toxic gases produced by fires can be as deadly as heat and flames. Actually, the majority of people die or get injured in fires because of exposure to hazardous smoke and toxic gases released during a fire and not actual burns. In addition, smoke often obscures vision and thereby decreases the ability of fire victims to escape. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the major cause of death following smoke inhalation.

What is fire?

Fires start in three main ways:

  1. Accidents (e.g. misuse of appliances, dropping a cigarette or match on a sofa or mattress, etc.)
  2. Deliberate ignition
  3. Equipment failure including electrical malfunctions and overheating

Fire is the result of a chemical reaction between oxygen and some sort of fuel (for example a TV or sofa). When a heat source, such as a candle or a cigarette, heats the fuel to its ignition temperature, a combustion reaction is triggered, resulting in a fire.  

How to eliminate fire damages?

In order to effectively eliminate fires and their detrimental effects, it is crucial to improve prevention of fires as well as protection from spreading fires. An important element to prevent a fire from rapidly developing or spreading, is  to delay the ignition period, allowing people more time to escape and for the fire brigade to arrive at the incident.

Flame retardants can act in three different ways to stop the burning process and create such a delay. They may work to:

  • Disrupt the combustion stage of a fire cycle, including avoiding or delaying “flashover,” or the burst of flames that engulfs a room and makes it much more difficult to escape.
  • Limit the process of decomposition by physically insulating the available fuel sources from the material source with a fire-resisting “char” layer.
  • Dilute the flammable gases and oxygen concentrations in the flame formation zone by emitting water, nitrogen or other inert gases.