Fire is captivating, entrancing, primal and dangerous—yet at the same time it’s calming and graceful. Staring into a flame is an experience that transcends words and can make people rethink their beliefs about what it means to be human. Whether it’s the ferocious, destructive force that has shaped our world, or the entrancing dance of a well-choreographed ballet of heat and light, fire fascinates us all.
There are a lot of things that contribute to fire, but the most common cause of fires is human error. This can include anything from improperly using equipment or not reporting a problem with machinery, to leaving cooking food unattended. These factors can lead to fires escalating quickly, which can damage property and harm people.
The most effective way to prevent and control fires is to have an evacuation plan, and practice it. If you live in an area where wildfires or thunderstorms are a risk, sign up for alerts from your local government agency to get calls and texts about impending disasters. If a fire occurs in your home, stay calm and evacuate. Make sure your doors are closed, so smoke doesn’t spread further. Feel the doorknob and cracks around a door to see if it’s hot before opening it. If it is, close the door and find another exit.
Once something catches fire, it will continue to burn as long as it has fuel and oxygen. This is why it’s important to remove combustible materials from the workplace and dispose of them on a regular basis.
Fire produces lots of heat, which is why we use it to generate electricity. The heat from burning coal, oil, natural gas or wood is used to drive a turbine that spins a generator to produce electric power. In addition, the heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels is used to boil water to create steam, which then drives electrical turbines in a power station.
Several plants require fire to move along their life cycles. For example, seeds from many pine tree species are enclosed in pitch that must be melted by fire for the seeds to release and grow. Other trees, plants and flowers, including certain types of lilies, also require fire for seed germination.
When you’re escaping a fire, if you can, escape through a window. If you must escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, staying low, until you reach the nearest exit. Close the door to slow the spread of the fire and protect yourself from toxic gases. If you can’t open the door, signal for help with a flashlight or brightly colored object through the cracks.
Fire is a combination of solids and gases that form the flaming mass that we see, and also the gases produced by the chemical reaction of its fuel with air. The combustion of fuel and air results in the release of energy as heat, which keeps the remaining fuel at its ignition temperature.