The Science of Fire

Given fire protection is the name of our game; we’re always interested in learning new facts about fire. These are not only interesting, but grow our knowledge on how to protect you better. So with winter on its way we thought, what better time to share this information with you!

Let’s talk about the science of FIRE.


Fire is a chemical reaction that releases light and heat. It is an event, not a thing and needs three components to exist; heat, oxygen and fuel. Fire is extinguished when one of these components is missing. Heating wood or other fuel releases volatile vapours that rapidly combust with oxygen in the air. The resulting incandescent bloom of gas further heats the fuel, releasing more vapours and perpetuating the cycle.

Earth is the only known planet where fire can burn. No other planet has the required amount of oxygen to feed a fire. The air you breathe is 21 percent oxygen. The more oxygen there is, the hotter the fire.


Oxygen supply influences the colour of a flame. A low-oxygen fire contains lots of uncombusted fuel particles and will give off a yellow glow. A high-oxygen fire burns blue. So a candle flame is blue at the bottom because that’s where fresh air is taken up, and yellow at the top because the rising fumes from below partly suffocate the upper part of the flame.

The Science is Interesting, but What Does This Mean for You?

A fire can very easily tear through your home or workplace, which is why FireSafe exists; to protect your life and property. Fire is faster than generally thought and can take less than thirty seconds to become difficult to control. This is compounded by the changes in furniture design and materials. Modern furnishings are frequently manufactured from cheap synthetic, hydro-carbon-based materials that burn and reach a very high temperature rapidly. In earlier times, when natural materials, such as hardwoods were predominantly used, fires developed much more slowly.

“Flashover” occurs when the materials in a fire are heated to their ignition temperatures and catch fire. If the bulk of materials are of similar type they will catch fire spontaneously and virtually simultaneously once the ignition temperature is reached. A relatively small fire can quickly develop into an inferno. Hydro-carbon-based materials, once alight, emit large quantities of poisonous black smoke which is largely unburnt hydro-carbons.

These explode once ignition point is reached. The concentration of quantities of hydrocarbon-based materials in modern environments means that flashover point can be rapidly reached once a fire develops. Additionally, the network of fire stations in the Sydney metropolitan area was built when flashover times were much longer. Fire stations were spaced out so as to be able to reach any building in their districts within the generally estimated time of flashover. This is no longer the case; we would need fire stations on every corner to be able to do this now.

More people die from smoke inhalation than flames. Fire can suck all of the oxygen from a room and fill it with poisonous smoke and gases before flames even reach a room.

Assuming stable fuel, heat, and oxygen levels, a typical house fire will double in size every minute. Without a Fire Station next door, this lag time may result in the complete destruction of property. The most common cause of fire deaths is cooking fires, with two of every five home fires started in the kitchen. This is a very good reason to have a fire blanket and extinguisher in every kitchen, and ensure your smoke alarms are functioning correctly and checked regularly.  FireSafe can assist with this.

Whilst all of this is alarming, FireSafe is here to help you decrease the risk of a fire starting in your home or workplace. Fire blankets, extinguishers, smoke alarms and other such devices mitigate this risk. . FireSafe prides itself on carrying the complete range of products and having the knowledge and know how to supply, install and maintain the fire protection products required for you.

For additional information and to discuss how FireSafe can help you, contact us today to speak to one of our friendly customer service representatives on 1300 347 372 or CLICK HERE