Despite knowing that Fire is a slave when under control, but a bad dictator when goes out of control, people seldom give a second thought about fire safety. This essay elucidates the safety aspects of fire.
A major fire that broke out in Dec. 2011, at Amrit Hospital in Kolkata claimed about 93 lives and many suffered severe burns. Similarly, over 95 school children were charred to death a few years ago, in a devastating fire in Kumbakonam, South Tamil Nadu State.
What to do when there is a fire? First and foremost, know what type of fire it is. Not all the fires can be put out by water. Fires can be grouped as follows:
Solid Fire: Wooden furniture, clothes, etc.
Liquid Fire: Petrol, oil, kerosene, etc.
Gaseous Fire: LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).
Spl. Material Fire: Magnesium, potassium and phosphorous.
Electrical Fire: Short circuit, fire on electrical installations.
Chemistry of fire: Any fire is attributed to the concurrent occurrences of the three.
- Fuel: All combustible substances like solid, liquid or gaseous.
- Oxygen: Usually the air which contains about 20 per cent of 02.
- Heat (flame): The attainment of certain degree
These three form a triangle, called. ‘Fire Triangle;
Method of extinguishing are three, namely, Cooling, Starving and Blanketing. By cutting off any one of these chemistries, any fire can be put out, however, by using the right kind of extinguisher. To douse solid fires, cooling method is adopted; Water is used, because it puts out the fire and thereby, cuts off the existing heat.
Liquid fires can be put out by starving method: cutting contact between the blaze and the fuel.To combat this kind of fire, Foam extinguisher,
Containing chemical foam is opt. This milky white chemical foam instantly forms a layer over the burning substance (fuel) and, instantly cuts contact between the other two: heat and oxygen. It results in starvation of fuel. So the fire dies.
Gas fire is doused by arresting the oxygen feeding. It reduces the oxygen content from 20 to 15 percent. The extinguisher used here is the water type soda acid. Deprived of oxygen, it forces the fire to die out.
For electrical fire, C02 type extinguisher containing Dry Chemical Powder (DCP) is to be used.
Fire extinguishers are four kinds: A, B, C and D. The selection of the right extinguisher is given below.
|Type of Extinguishers||Extinguishing Agent||Effect of Extinguishing||A|
|Soda acid||Soda solution||Striking/cooling||Yes||No||No||No|
First-aid to fire victims: Sustaining 33.3 percent burns is fatal. However, sustaining less than this percentage on certain body parts is critical, too. Different fires cause different effects.
Burns; Caused by dry heat, fire, electric current, alkalies, acids and hot metals.
Scalds: Boiled water, hot oil, steam, moist and heat.
Degrees: Colour of skin, blisters, deeper tissue destructions.
Do not break blisters; cover the burnt-out portion with dry sterile/dressing/clean cloth. Never pull out the burnt clothes. If the clothes are wet with flammable liquid substance, remove the clothes gently, but quickly. Pour cool water over the wound if deeper tissues are not affected. Avoid applying any ointment. For acid burns, apply baking soda solution.
For major burns, do not give any eatable, unless the victim can be rushed to the hospital within four hours. For minor burns, give plenty of warm fluid mixed with lots of sugar. Water also can be given to compensate the loss of water in the body.