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putting out fires

2666 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  terri9630
Can a small fire typically be put out with a water-hose if you get to it well before it gets large?
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There's something called the fire-triangle.

You need three things to make a fire, Fuel, Oxygen and a Heat Source.

You attack any one of the three, and you beat the fire.

I have a few fire extinguishers, the ones I use on the road are CO2 and pressurized water. The dry chemical stuff essentially combines with the surface of the fuel to prevent it from emitting flammable gasses, the PROBLEM with that is that it doesn't reduce the heat, and it doesn't reduce the availability of oxygen.

The truth is you wont ever be exposed to some of the nasty crud that firefighters have to deal with - BUT YOU MIGHT.

1. Kitchen grease fire, or the more common "turkey grease fire" with LOTS of fuel and LOTS of propane heating the fuel. First and foremost you need to remember that if the fueld is lightweight, or liquid, that hitting it with a stream of water will only spread it - ENOUGH water can work, but it's messy. CO2 works best IMO for these, it's extremely cold (reduces the heat) and cuts off the oxygen supply. After you put out the flames, you need to address the fuel/ heat source. Turn off the propane/gas, then address the spilt fuel. For most it's safer to use dry-chemical, but it makes a horrible mess, CO2 just evaporates. Be careful, in an enclosed space the CO2 can make you pass out.

2. Wood fire/structure. If it's small and you can immediately apply ENOUGH WATER to make a difference, do so - if you don't think you can, then you need to get the heck away. Once a fire is hot enough, the pitiful stream from a garden hose will simply evaporate in the updraft before it even strikes the material to be cooled. If you do use water, work your way up from the bottom of the fire, don't spray it on top.

3. Car fire. CO2 or water. I have seen more than one vehicle and tractor-trailer fire become fully involved after several large dry chem extinguishers were applied to it - of course, none where I work, because I carry water and CO2.

4. Electrical fire. Not a really huge difference, you just have to remember that there is NOTHING that can cool a shorted wire below the point it will burn, so don't try. Keep the surrounding area from burning, and remember that electricity travels along the shortest path to ground, and that short path may be up the water stream and through your body.

5. Any fire involving anything but simple fuels. Run away, don't even try - seriously, don't try. If it's someone's garage, write the thing off - the very last thing you want is to spend a lifetime with scarred lung tissue because you thought it was worth it to save your neighbor's workshop. Sometimes as little as one whiff of the wrong chemical (and there are too many) will cause unconsciousness. It's not worth it, run away - the farther the better.

People are more important than things. If it's a grid-down survival situation, you have to learn to be more safe than it seems possible around anything that might burn. The first fire will wipe you out. Storing liquid fuels in your garage for instance. Smoking a pipe when you're reloading (seen it). Deciding that one big burn pile is a better idea, than five small ones - only to see the flaming embers float on the updraft to your shingle roof, or the neighbors corn.
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