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    How Fire Works


    Fire is a chemical reaction that turns fuel and oxygen into energy in the form of hot gases. These gases spread outward from the center of the flame and heat the surrounding air, which expands outward as well. This expansion gives the flame its characteristic shape and appearance. Fire burns hot and fast, so it can damage buildings and kill people. It can also destroy plant life and pollute the air.

    Fire has many uses, and some humans use it intentionally to achieve certain results. For example, a fire in a power station converts coal into electricity. Other times, it is used to help plants grow, or in cooking and heating homes. It can even be useful in cleaning up the environment by destroying diseased trees and shrubs.

    In addition to providing warmth and cooking food, it’s a source of light, which allows us to see in the dark. Some types of fire give off radiant heat, which warms objects that its rays touch. Other types of heat move through the air as convection, which is how your clothes feel when you sit in front of a fireplace or stove.

    The way that fire burns is complicated and involves many steps. First, the flammable material (wood or gasoline) must be heated to its ignition temperature. This happens when it comes into contact with something that heats it up, such as a match, concentrated sunlight or friction.

    Once a fire has started, it can be sustained by a process called rapid oxidation. This happens when the molecular structure of the fuel breaks down and releases a lot of energy. Then the atoms of the fuel fuse together with oxygen molecules from the air to create new molecules—water and carbon dioxide, for instance. The new molecules release more energy, which causes the fuel to keep igniting. The cycle continues until the fuel runs out or the chemical reaction slows down.

    A good way to understand how a fire works is to imagine what it would look like in space. The hot gases in a flame are much less dense than the surrounding air, so they rise up and expand outward, creating the impression of a solid flame. On Earth, gravity helps this process along, but if we were in microgravity, a flame would spread outward and point downward instead of upward.

    It is important to be prepared for a wildfire in your area, and make sure you take precautions to protect yourself and your property. Make sure your gas meter and propane tank are secured, and don’t use anything that could spark or explode. If you hear or see an evacuation order, follow it immediately. Check for smoldering debris and report any damaged utility poles or lines to the proper authorities. Make sure your family has a fire escape plan, and practice it often. Also, remember that fire can be dangerous to animals as well. So be sure to secure your pets and keep them inside if possible.

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    Types of Fire Trucks

    fire trucks

    Fire trucks are a crucial piece of firefighting equipment that help firefighters reach the scene of an emergency or blaze quickly. They’re also designed to deliver water and other firefighting materials, like chemicals and foam, to help extinguish the blaze and save lives. Firefighters also use the vehicles to transport themselves and equipment to and from emergency scenes in a quick, safe way.

    There are different types of fire trucks, and each type is configured with a specific set of tools and supplies to meet the needs of its community. NFPA standards and other industry-specific standards set forth the minimum requirements for each vehicle based on its function and the area it serves. This ensures that fire departments across the country can request assistance from other departments using standard engine type specifications and terminology. Having consistent fire truck specifications allows for quick, efficient mutual aid and allows fire departments to know exactly what they can expect from other fire trucks arriving on the scene.

    The Type 1 fire truck is designed to carry a crew of 3 or 4 firefighters, and it’s equipped with a large amount of basic gear including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), firefighting tools and hoses, forcible entry equipment, firefighter safety and rescue equipment, chainsaws, full hazmat equipment, advanced life support (ALS) equipment and more. Some jurisdictions also choose to equip their Type 1 fire truck with additional specialized equipment for things like wildland firefighting or structural firefighting.

    A Type 2 fire truck may be a great option for a small or medium-sized department looking for a more compact firefighting vehicle. This type of truck typically features a smaller water tank and pump but still has storage capabilities that can hold a lot of equipment. Depending on the jurisdiction, it may also be equipped with a variety of unique tools and equipment, including a deluge gun and/or bundled hose packs.

    Often, fire trucks are fitted with audible warning systems that can emit a variety of different sounds depending on the speed and type of maneuver the vehicle is performing. For example, a fire truck driving at high speeds down a highway might be set to a long, sustained “wail” sound while in heavy traffic or in a crowded intersection it might be set to a quicker yelp sound.

    Many fire trucks are painted with bright, retroreflective colors to help improve their visibility on the road and in poor lighting conditions. Some fire departments prefer to go with traditional red, while others opt for white with blue stripes or something more creative. In addition to the paint, most fire trucks are outfitted with a wide range of reflective markings on the bumpers and other areas to increase their visibility. Many fire departments also choose to add a flame-retardant finish to their appliances to protect them from chemicals and other substances they encounter while fighting a fire. Some fire trucks are even equipped with a fire suppression system, which can reduce the amount of water needed to fight a blaze.

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    What Is a Fire Extinguisher?

    fire extinguisher

    A fire extinguisher is a portable device that puts out small fires by directing a stream of water or a special liquid or foam material onto the flames. It can also suffocate the flames by denying them oxygen or interfering with the chemical reactions that make them burn. These devices are available in businesses, homes, schools and other places where a fire could occur. They’re easy to use and typically cost less than $10,000 each.

    A few things to keep in mind about fire extinguishers are that the type you choose must match the type of fire you’re trying to put out, and that the device must be aimed at the base of the flames (not above or to the side). They’re usually color-coded with a red stripe and a number. Each device has a tank that contains the extinguishing agent and has a handle with a pressure gauge on top. A discharge lever near the top releases the extinguishing agent through a discharge hose, and you must shake the device vigorously before using it. You can find these devices in two forms: handheld units that weigh from 0.5 to 14 kilograms (30.9 to 30.9 lb) and cart-mounted models, which have a red wheel and are typically hung on the wall or placed on a stand.

    Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers discharge a gas that reduces the oxygen level in the atmosphere and thus suffocates the fire. They’re effective against Class A fires, such as wood, paper, cloth and trash. They’re also used against Class B flammable liquids, such as grease, oil and paint, and for gasses, including butane and propane.

    Clean Agent Fire Extinguishers (CAF) discharge a clean, nonconductive agent that is not harmful to electronic equipment and does not leave any residue after use. These extinguishers are often used in computer rooms and other places with expensive equipment. The agent inside these devices is typically bromochlorodifluoromethane, which is similar to Halon (which was phased out because of its damaging effect on the environment), and has about twice as much range as carbon dioxide on a weight-of-agent basis.

    Powder Fire Extinguishers

    These devices contain a dry powder that smothers the flames by separating them from oxygen, so they don’t burn. They’re used against Class A and Class B fires, but don’t work on combustible metals like magnesium, titanium, sodium and potassium, which are found in engineering factories.

    AFFF and FFFP Fire Extinguishers

    These extinguishers are designed to tackle Class A and Class B fires by discharging a liquid-like substance that can smother the flames and block their path to oxygen. These extinguishers are effective for a long time after they’re used, and can be used in freezing temperatures.

    There are many other types of fire extinguishers, including halon-based ones, but these three are the most common. Regardless of the fire extinguisher you choose, it’s important to check your unit frequently and follow its manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance. Also, remember to always keep it within reach, as the fire may quickly spread and block your escape route.

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    Fire Stations and the Jargon Used by Firefighters

    fire stations

    Fire stations are an essential part of a city’s emergency response system. They house and maintain the trucks, vehicles and equipment that are dispatched to fires and other emergencies. They also serve as the headquarters for the fire department. The terms and jargon used by firefighters are highly variable and may differ by department or even region. As a result, the vocabulary used in this article should be taken as a general guide only.

    Wet down ceremony

    A formal ritual to mark the placing of a new fire vehicle into service. This typically includes pushing the old apparatus out and wetting down the new vehicle before it is put into service.

    Master box: An alarm relay system connected to a building that monitors the fire alarm pull stations and detectors throughout the structure and automatically relays any in-building alarm to the local fire department. This is usually accompanied by an Annunciator Panel that records, by indicator lights, exactly which pull station or detector has been activated.

    Hose pack: A preconfigured arrangement of fire hose in a backpack style bag, often with a gated wye at the end which allows a couple of hand lines to be connected. This is commonly used in quick attack situations, to get water to the fire faster and more easily than would be possible from a pumper alone.

    Pilot: In mutual aid situations, a member from the local department who rides with an out-of-town engine to ensure that proper direction is given. Pilots are normally picked up at their fire station before they go on a call.

    Wet riser: A pipe in a building that is filled with water to which hoses can be connected to supply water at the scene of a fire. This is a common feature in office buildings and high-rise apartment complexes.

    Roof sector: A team, typically of a ladder company, assigned to the roof of a structure for purposes of vertical ventilation during a fire. This is also sometimes done to check the condition of rooftop equipment such as HVAC systems and sprinklers.

    NIMS: National Incident Management System, a federally mandated program to standardize command terminology and procedures across the country.

    Firefighters’ turnout gear: The full protective clothing worn by firefighting personnel, including helmets, boots and gloves.

    Station commander: An officer at a fire department who is responsible for dispatching crews, coordinating resources and communicating with incident command.

    Two-in/two-out: The standard safety tactic whereby a firefighter will be sent to an incident along with another member from the same company to provide backup and support. This means that if a member becomes injured or incapacitated, the other firefighter will be available to take their place.

    FDNY: The Fire Department of the City of New York, the largest municipal fire department in the United States. It was founded in the late 19th century when volunteer fire departments in the City were consolidated into a paid, professional organization. This led to a massive building boom, as new stations were built to accommodate the influx of new firefighters and equipment. Many of the early fire stations were designed by the in-house architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Son, which later included designs by Hoppin & Koen, Herts & Tallant, Satterlee & Boyd and Dennison.

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    What Does a Firefighter Do?


    Firefighters are emergency responders who put their lives on the line to protect people and property from fires, explosions, floods, natural disasters, and other emergencies. They are sworn members of the fire service, and they typically receive formal training at a fire academy. Firefighters work for local fire departments, wilderness firefighting agencies, and state fire organizations, as well as with construction trades, fire-equipment manufacturers, and other industries.


    A firefighter’s job requires intense physical activity and mental acuity. They often encounter high levels of stress and adrenaline, especially during emergency situations that require them to make quick decisions under pressure. In addition, firefighters are exposed to a variety of potential hazards, including smoke inhalation, heat exposure, and falling or collapsing structures. These factors can contribute to firefighter burnout.

    Those who successfully complete the entrance process for a fire department can be hired for various positions, including on-call firefighter, engine operator, firefighter specialist, and dispatcher. As more and more people become interested in becoming firefighters, competition for the position can be fierce. A substantial number of candidates will be disqualified during the entry process, either due to poor written exam scores or failing the physical abilities test, or from failing the oral interview or background investigation.


    In addition to fighting fires, firefighters also rescue trapped victims from car accidents, structure collapses, chemical spills, and other incidents. They are trained in a wide variety of techniques to free people from such situations. Firefighters can use ladders, fire axes, hand tools, hydraulic spreaders, and other equipment to extricate people from vehicles or to break through walls to rescue them. They may also have to rescue pets, livestock, or other animals from dangerous environments.

    Firefighters are responsible for assessing each emergency situation upon arrival at the scene. They must evaluate the properties of the fire, its probability of spreading, and the needs of victims in order to determine the best course of action. They must also assess the risks of entering a building to fight an interior fire. They then must quickly decide between an offensive or defensive strategy based on these assessments.


    In many jurisdictions, firefighters must also perform public education and fire safety outreach activities. They train community members, teach schoolchildren about fire prevention, and speak to groups at schools and civic events. Firefighters can also be found in hazardous materials units, assisting with cleanup and decontamination after oil spills and chemical accidents.

    When they are not on call, firefighters spend time cleaning and maintaining the fire station and their personal living quarters. They must also regularly inspect their equipment and participate in drills. In addition, they are on call for 24 hours, so their shifts can last days or even weeks. This can impact family life and cause sleep deprivation. Despite the long and varied tasks, the rewards of being a firefighter can be significant. The pay is competitive, and the benefits package is comprehensive. Many firefighters find that being a firefighter is a career they are passionate about.

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    How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

    fire extinguisher

    A fire extinguisher is a valuable tool in putting out small fires before they spread. It can also save lives and property by keeping people safe when they are trying to escape or get help for someone trapped in a fire. It’s important to know how to use a fire extinguisher and keep them in areas where they can be easily accessed, such as the kitchen or garage.

    Each fire extinguisher has a handle, a mounting bracket and a cylinder or tank with an extinguishing agent inside. A nozzle or hose is attached to the end of the tank that shoots the extinguishing agent towards the fire. There is also a safety or locking pin that keeps the fire extinguisher closed during transport and storage until you are ready to deploy it. A pressure gauge on the side of the extinguisher shows the amount of pressurized gas inside it.

    There are many different types of fire extinguishers, and each one is designed to put out a specific type of fire. Each has its own color and symbol that indicates what kind of fire it can put out. You should have a multipurpose ABC extinguisher on each level of your house and a fire-fighting foam extinguisher (also known as an “AFFF” or “FFFP”) in the kitchen.

    Water fire extinguishers work by covering the flames with water, which removes oxygen and smothers the fire. They can be used on Class A fires, which are ordinary combustible materials like cloth, wood, paper and rubber. They can also be used on Class B fires, which involve flammable liquids such as gasoline, alcohol, oil-based paints and lacquers. They can even be used on electrical fires up to 1000v, but should never be used on energized equipment.

    Class D fire extinguishers are made to fight combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium and sodium. You will find them in the chemical and metallurgical laboratories on campus.

    When you are in an area where there is a fire, follow the instructions on your fire extinguisher and aim it low at the base of the fire. Then squeeze the handle slowly and evenly to discharge the extinguishing agent. Once the fire is out, you should sweep the nozzle left to right and then check the area for lingering flames or smoke before you leave. You should also call the fire department to give them details about the fire and to make sure there aren’t any lingering embers that can re-ignite the fire. You should also wait until the fire department has cleared the area before returning to it. Then you can be certain that there are no lingering fumes or smoke that could harm your health. In addition, you will want to inspect your fire extinguishers at least once a year to ensure they are working properly. It’s a good idea to keep an inspection log and write the date, month and name of the person who did the inspection.

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    Fire Stations and What They Do

    fire stations

    Fire Stations (also Firehouse) house the fire apparatus and the firefighters that serve a community’s emergency response needs. Firefighters respond to a wide variety of incidents, including fires, medical emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, train or transit accidents and other incidents that require rescue, evacuation and/or hazard mitigation. They also conduct fire prevention inspections, and develop plans to protect structures from a variety of hazards.

    Often, the first firefighters to arrive on scene of an incident will use a firehose or a ladder to quickly and efficiently “lay out” water supply to the fire, establishing a water stream to combat the fire, and indicating to the next fire company to come in that they have a water supply. Firefighters will also perform a primary search of the structure, looking for individuals inside to ensure their safety and that there is no one trapped.

    The FDNY’s work is complex and multifaceted, requiring the highest levels of training, skill, equipment and knowledge. The city’s unique architecture and occupancies, many secluded bridges and tunnels, the subway system and large parks, wooded areas with brush fire potential, a major airport and numerous other transportation systems present special challenges to our firefighters.

    Standard operating procedure, guideline or standard: The rules of a fire department, encompassing its response to various types of emergency situations, training requirements, radio procedures and other details. May include local interpretations of national standards and regulations.

    NFPA: National Fire Protection Association – the association that sets standards and codes for the fire industry. Typical documents include building codes, fire fighting standards and technical data for equipment and vehicles, fire alarm systems and fire sprinklers.

    Type 3 IMT: A group of firefighters from the same fire district trained to function in command and general staff positions during the first 6-12 hours at a major or complex incident. Frequently deployed at regional and national incidents.

    Utility truck: A vehicle that can be manned by an engine company and is typically used to respond to non-medical calls such as water main breaks to save fuel costs of the fire engines. Some small departments also use them to respond to medical calls to cut down on the number of fire units needed at the scene.

    FAST or RIC: Firefighter assist and search team or rapid intervention crew — implementations of the two-in, two-out rule for firefighter rescue; often composed of specialized personnel who have a wide range of skills and tools. NIMS: National Incident Management System is currently in the process of determining which terms will be nationally-mandated.

    Detection: The act of sensing the presence of an odor, smell or sound associated with a fire, smoke, chemical release or other event. May be automatic, or manually triggered by an event sensor, or by the action of a firefighter, such as a hose handle turning on.

    Ventilation profile: The overall state of airflow in a structure, taking into account the area, number and location of existing ventilation openings, any forced airflow from fans or the venturi effect of a firehose or other device, etc. This may be altered tactically, for example by opening doors or windows or adjusting fan speed to increase or decrease flow.

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    What Does it Take to Be a Firefighter?

    Firefighter is the job title given to an individual whose career involves emergency rescue, fighting fires and providing assistance with other incidents such as natural disasters and chemical spills. The occupation is considered to be highly challenging but rewarding at the same time. A high school diploma or 2 year degree is required to become a firefighter and the training that goes into achieving this career goal requires physical and mental strength and stamina as well as a great deal of time and effort.

    Upon arriving at the scene of an emergency, firefighters must assess the situation. They must determine the properties of the fire, its probability of spreading and the needs of the victims in order to deal with the emergency appropriately. This is done by observing the fire, obtaining information from witnesses and analyzing the effects of weather conditions on the emergency site.

    Fire fighters must also be highly trained medical professionals and can provide assistance with emergency medical care. They often assist with search and rescue operations, including rescuing trapped victims from automobile crashes, building collapses and flood channels. Firefighters are also responsible for the removal of hazardous materials from the site of an accident. These can include chemicals such as cyanide, chlorine and methanol as well as petroleum products.

    A firefighter is also required to be skilled in the use of a variety of specialized equipment. These may include fire pumps, water tanks, hydraulic vehicles and fire hoses. Firefighters must also be familiar with various types of hazards and dangers that can be encountered at the emergency site such as toxic smoke, dangerous gases, thermal and electrical hazards, electrical shock, structural failures and flooding.

    The firefighting profession is physically demanding and extremely dangerous. It is estimated that there are more than 100 firefighter fatalities in the United States each year. In addition, many firefighters suffer injuries that can include burns, cuts, respiratory illnesses and psychological trauma. The risk of cancer is high for firefighters as well, due to the prolonged exposure to carcinogenic compounds that are produced during the burning of a fire.

    Most firefighters work out of a fire station which is their home base when they are not responding to an emergency. They are required to maintain the station, its living quarters, tools and equipment in good working condition. Firefighters are also required to participate in regular company fire prevention inspections, fire/rescue training and physical fitness training. TV shows often show the life of a firefighter as being exciting and glamorous. This is far from the truth as there are countless hours of unglamorous administrative work that must be completed by each firefighter, in addition to the adrenaline rush of battling flames and saving lives. It is no wonder that there are thousands of candidates for a few potential firefighter jobs. To become a firefighter requires a huge amount of preparation and dedication in addition to a considerable amount of money to fund the education and physical training requirements.

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    What Is Fire Protection?

    Fire protection is all the steps taken to prevent or control fires and minimize damage. It can include active systems like fire alarms that activate and help to alert people in the building to evacuate, and passive systems like structural measures that keep flames and smoke contained within a specific area.

    While there are many things you can do to prevent a fire, the best way to protect yourself is to prepare for a fire emergency in advance. This includes having a home escape plan, making sure all family members know what to do and where to go in the event of an evacuation, having working smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher handy and keeping them properly charged.

    The most common causes of fires in residential buildings are cooking and smoking. This is because most residential buildings have kitchens where combustible substances are stored and cooking appliances which are used to cook or heat food. Smoking in bed is also a major cause of house fires because the cigarette embers can fall on bedding, blankets or other combustible materials and start a fire.

    In some cases, fires are intentionally set. In workplaces, this can occur due to arson or when young people in the community are encouraged to light fires by their peers as a form of vandalism. Arson attacks can be difficult to detect but by educating employees on the dangers of fire-setting, the risks and consequences of this activity can be minimised.

    It is important to note that fire prevention and preparedness efforts can be a cost effective measure to take for businesses. In addition to reducing costly damages and losses, it can also assist with the reduction of insurance premiums.

    While most people associate fire protection with active systems, there are also passive systems that are designed to limit the spread of fire and smoke within a building. These include dividing a building into areas to restrict the movement of smoke and flames, reinforcing load-bearing structures to reduce their vulnerability to fire and adding passive fire protection materials that absorb or reflect heat.

    It is recommended that all residential and commercial properties have a fire safety plan and that all staff are aware of it. A fire safety plan should include an escape route for each person in the building and the location of fire hazards. It is also important to consider the special needs of individuals, especially those with disabilities, and make appropriate arrangements for their evacuation in the event of an emergency. This may include widening doors or installing ramps for wheelchairs and walkers.

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    What to Do After a Fire Accident

    Fire accidents are devastating for all involved, whether it is the loss of personal belongings, the destruction of property or the physical and emotional trauma caused by burn injuries. It can also be financially devastating for those who are unable to work and may not have a place to live while the bills continue to pile up. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented had proper safety measures been taken. It is important to learn about the common causes of fire accidents so that you can protect yourself and others from becoming victims.

    The most important step after a fire accident is to ensure the safety of all family members and friends who have been displaced from their homes. This means evacuating everyone from the building and securing the property. Boarding up windows and covering roof openings can help prevent weather elements from entering as well as unauthorized access. It can also protect against further damage and the potential for theft or vandalism while the home is being restored.

    Once it is safe, begin to sort through the remains of your home and gather any items that have not been damaged by smoke, soot, or water used to put out the fire. Keep a record of what you have saved, especially any receipts. You should also keep a record of any conversations you have with insurance companies and restoration services to provide documentation for your losses.

    If you have suffered burns in a fire accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. Even minor burns can cause severe pain and scarring. Cooling the burns with running water can help relieve some of the pain and swelling. You should also get medical treatment for any other physical or emotional symptoms related to the fire accident.

    It is also a good idea to contact your local fire department to obtain the fire report, if possible. This document provides official documentation of the fire and may contain crucial details that will help support your insurance claim.

    In addition to treating for burn injuries and addressing lost or destroyed property, you should start the process of finding new accommodations as soon as possible. You should ask your insurance agent about the availability of vouchers that can be used to cover hotel or motel expenses. You should also inquire about short-term rental options that can be provided by government agencies or private charities. These services can help ease the financial burden that a house or apartment fire can create. Getting these resources in place can make it much easier to concentrate on recovering from your losses and moving forward. If the fire accident was due to negligence or a product defect, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages. TorkLaw’s attorneys are ready to help you navigate the complexities of a fire damage and personal injury case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We are available to assist clients in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and throughout the state of California.

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