21 June 2013

We didn't start the fire, but we can put it out.

     I've got an idea for today's blog. Let's learn to put out some fires. First, we'll talk about the basics of fire, then we'll talk about putting them out.
    Every fire needs three things to burn; oxygen, heat, and fuel. These combine in a chemical reaction and fire is made. Here's a diagram explaining it.
     I'm really glad they mentioned "cod liver oil" under the liquid fuels. I don't know what I would have done without that being there.
     A lot of things burn, and a lot of things put fires out. I used to go "ditch riding" in the Spring when we would put water into the irrigation canals. We often burned ditch banks to clear them.We would use pitchforks to clear out tumbleweeds and burn them, too, clearing the way for the water. The fires would sometimes get a little out of hand, but nothing more than throwing dirt on it wouldn't take care of.

Spencer, who ditch rides as any gentleman should; Scott; Landon; and Me

So other than dirt, how do we put out a fire? Water works a lot of the time. Not all the time, though.

Water works on most solid fuels, but there are some considerations that need to be taken first. Water should not be used on:

  • Fires where live electricity is present — as water conducts electricity it presents an electrocution hazard.
  • Hydrocarbon fires — as it will only spread the fire because of the difference in density. Hydrocarbons are basically fuels like propane, methane, butane, and petroleum fuels like gasoline.
  • Metal fires — as these fires produce huge amounts of energy (up to 7.550 calories/kg for aluminum) and water can also create violent chemical reactions with burning metal (by oxidization) .
  • Fat fires — as vapor will carry and spread burning oil everywhere. This would be like your frying pan catching fire.
     So basically what I'm getting at is that we should all have a fire extinguisher and know how to use it. Keeping one handy in your home is a good idea. Learning how it works is a good idea, too, so we're going to go over that.
     If you can remember this acronym, it may help, but even if you don't remember it, you can remember what to do pretty easily.

     Pull the pin(yeah, like a grenade).
     Aim at the base of the fire.
     Squeeze the handle.
     Sweep side to side.

    Yeah, PASS. It's not that hard. Here's a little picture to demonstrate:

     One really important thing I think we would do well to point out is the part where we aim at the base of the fire. This is important. What's the scariest part of a fire? It's the flame, but that's not what you need to fight. It's like trying to stop a leak by swatting at the water instead of plugging the hole. Here's an example of someone trying to use a fire extinguisher and not succeeding because he is just spraying the flames:

     I talked about the CERT class I attended, where I was able to practice with one of these. It was a really good experience. Everyone ought to have a chance to practice...then keep practicing until you get it right.

Everyone ought to have smoke alarms in their homes. We should also have a working fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it. Lastly, we should all take a look at this video and enjoy:


1 comment :

  1. Hot stuff, Mister! I'm glad you pointed out about how to put out a fire by aiming for the source, not just focusing on a flame. Fires are so unpredictable. It's very important to respect the force behind such a powerful element. Thank you for your insight and for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us!