Fire triangle – Fire Tetrahedron

Industrial safety is now become a key factor for industries and point of focus. Now without industrial safety policies, it is not possible for industries to survive as now Government is becoming strict in terms of safety in chemical industries hence now its mandatory for industrial to improve their safety standards to remain in existence.

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Fire triangle concept

In any chemical industry, fire hazard is very common and most of the material, chemical or solvents used in the chemical industry used for the manufacturing of the product has a potential of fire hence there is always a risk of fire in chemical industry.

But considering the risk of fire we can not close industry but on contradary, we need to reduce the risk of fire. To understand the cause of fire there is a concept by name Fire triangle. Let us learn in details,

What is Fire Triangle – What fire triangle consists of

Fire triangle is a model consists of three element which are the  basis requirement for fire to be established. This fire triangle is also known as combustion triangle of fire behaviour triangle. This fire triangle model consists of Fuel, ignition and oxygen. According to this model, if these element i.e. Fuel oxygen are present in right proportion get ignition then fire will occur.

Three elements of fire triangle –

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fire triangle drawing
  1. Fuel
  2. Oxygen
  3. Ignition

Fuel  – Fuel can be considers as the primary element for the establishment of fire. Fuel is the element which will burn and result in the fire. The quantity of fuel will decide the duration of fire. E,g, of fuel can be any flammable material i.e. wood, paper, dry grass, solvents, plastic, petroleum products like petrol, diesel, gasoline natural gas etc.

Oxygen / oxidizing agent – Oxygen is a element whose presence is important for fire. when fuel is burn, it react with oxygen and result in generation of  release heat and generate combustion. E.g. of oxidizing agent are  fluorine gas, perchlorate salts such as ammonium perchlorate, or chlorine trifluoride etc.

Ignition / Heat – All the flammable substances had flashpoint. Ignition in the form of spark or heat is one of the three elements of the fire triangle. If in an area there is fuel stored the atmosphere in the room has sufficient oxygen present and in this condition, if the flammable substage gets ignition or heat, it may result in fire.

Fire tetrahedron

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Now you had learned what is fire triangle which consist of three element. Eventually, fire  triangle has been updated to fire tetrahedron on addition of fourth element to the fire triangle i.e. chain reaction. Initially the occurrence of fire was represented with fire triangle which is consisting of Fuel, heat and oxidizing agent/ oxygen but later on additional element had been introduced to the Fire triangle and that was chain reaction and by this concept of Fire tetrahedron came in to existence.  The additional element to fire triangle is uninhibited chemical chain reaction the significance of chemical chain reaction is it provides sufficient exothermic reaction energy to produce ignition. The fuel/air ratio must within flammable limits, which describes the amount of vapor in air necessary to propagate flame. Removing any of these four factors will prevent, suppress, or control the fire.

Uses of fire triangle – Uses of fire tetrahedron

Fire triangle will help you to understand the possibility of occurrence of fire which will help to design process safety. Fire triangle is the base of fire extinguisher which works to eliminate one of the fire element and extinguish fire.

Example of use for fire triangle – Consider there is a wood block present in a ground and due to any reason fire broke out in it. As wood is a flammable material, one of the fire triangle is present, now it is present in open ground so it will get oxygen from the atmosphere (Atmosphere consists of 21% oxygen) and here consider fire / ignition has been provided purposefully. All these element completes fire triangle and result in fire in wood block. Now to extinguish fire we have to remove either of the element from the fire triangle. If we simply put the blanket over for wood (Consider the fire is not widely spread then then blanket will isolate the oxygen from the fire which will break the fire triangle and in this way we can suppress the fire.

On the same basis, fire extinguisher works. there are different types of fire extinguisher and the types of fire extinguisher are described below

  1. Water
  2. Powder
  3. Foam
  4. CO2
  5. Wet chemical

All these fire extinguisher works on the same principle that is to break fire triangle by elimination one of the component of fire triangle.

In chemical industry, job works are conducted every single day like preventive maintenance of equipments or equipment replacement. To ensure safe working environment and safety at work place, as a part of industrial safety, work permit system has been follow. Especially to determine and reduce the risk of industrial fire accidents Hot work permit system has been follow work permit system in chemical industry

Wrapping Up

Hope you like the article on fire triangle and tetrahedron consists of fire triangle definition and this post had helped you to understand Fire triangle what fire triangle is consists of. If you had any point that you are not able to understand the fire triangle concept then feel free to use the comment section and if you had any value addition point over this topic we welcome your suggestion.

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Me - Founder of Chemical Tweak - A Chemical Engineer by profession and a part-time self-trained technology blogger.

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