Introduction to this document

Fire triangle

All staff should understand some of the basic principles of fire safety as part of their fire awareness training. Use our fire triangle to develop their knowledge.

What is the fire triangle?

Fire is a chemical reaction which requires three components: a source of ignition/heat, fuel and oxygen. These three elements are known as the fire triangle and are shown on our simple diagram.

The source of ignition, for example, could be a discarded cigarette or an overheating electrical appliance. Fuels include rubbish, furniture, chemicals, etc. - basically anything which burns. Oxygen is naturally present in the air, but in some circumstances additional oxygen may be introduced via compressed gases or oxygenating chemicals.

If you take away one of the three components a fire cannot start. Taking away a component extinguishes a fire and reducing the quantity of the components reduces the spread of the fire.

You can use the Fire Triangle document to explain to staff how they can help prevent fires and to explain why certain actions help to limit fire spread.

You can also use it to illustrate how different fire extinguishers work. For example, water acts as a coolant (reduces heat) whilst carbon dioxide displaces oxygen, and foams and dry powders create a blanket which shuts off the oxygen supply to the flames.