Stages Of Fire Development in building- You should know

Fires evolve through several stages as the fuel and oxygen available are consumed. Each stage has its own characteristics and hazards that should be understood by safety managers and fire fighting personnel.

Incipient Stage:

The incipient stageis the first or beginning stage of a fire. In this stage, combustion has begun. This stage is identified by an ample supply of fuel and oxygen. The products of combustion that are released during this stage normally include water vapourcarbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Temperatures at the seat of the fire may have reached 1000°F, but room temperatures are still close to normal.

Free Burning Stage:

The free-burning stage follows the incipient stage. At this point, the self-sustained chemical reaction is intensifying. Greater amounts of heat are emitted and the fuel and oxygen supply is rapidly consumed. Room temperatures can rise to over 1300°F. In an enclosed compartment, the free-burning stage can become dangerous. Because of the heat intensity, the contents within a compartment are heated. At some point, if the compartment is not well ventilated, compartment contents will reach their ignition temperature. A flash over occurs when the contents within a compartment simultaneously reach their ignition temperature and become involved in flames. It is not uncommon for room temperatures to exceed 2000°F following a flash over. Human survival, even for properly protected fire fighters, is difficult if not impossible for a few seconds within a compartment following a flash over.

The smouldering stagefollows the free-burning stage. As a free-burning fire continues to burn, the chemical reaction will eventually consume the available oxygen within the compartment and ultimately convert it into carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. This causes the oxygen concentration within the compartment to decrease. When the oxygen concentration decreases to 15% by volume, the chemical reaction will not have sufficient oxygen to support free-burning combustion. Visibly, the flames subsist and the fuel begins to glow. A smoldering fire is identified by a sufficient amount of fuels and lower oxygen concentrations. Smoldering fires, especially when insulated within a compartment, can continue the combustion process for hours. Room temperatures can range from 1000–1500°F. The bi products of combustion also fill the compartment and human survival is impossible. During the smoldering stage, an extreme hazard, called a back draft, can develop. A back draft occurs when oxygen is introduced into a smoldering compartment fire. The immediate availability of sufficient oxygen in the presence of sufficient fuel, heat, and chemical chain reactions causes flaming combustion again. In some cases, the back draft is so violent that an explosion will occur. Human survival, even of properly protected fire fighters, is usually not possible.

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