Over the past few weeks we have been discussing some of the chemistry of hazardous materials; today I am going to expand our science curriculum into combustion. Any program on fire prevention and safety is based on a clear understanding of how materials ignite. In order for a fire to occur, three elements are required; Oxygen, Heat, and Fuel. These elements are frequently shown as the "fire triangle."
The elements of combustion are very similar to the construction of a triangle in that all sides must come together before a fire can occur. Therefore, the goal of a fire safety program is to keep these elements apart. Since oxygen is present in nearly all industrial work situations we must separate or control the heat and fuel sources to reduce the chances of fire.
Take a look around your work areas today--and everyday--where both heat and fuel sources may be found. And remember housekeeping is important. Keep your work areas clean and organized. It is also important to know your evacuation route in case of a fire, as well as the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.