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The Destructive Power Of Fire

The Destructive Power Of Fire
The Destructive Power Of Fire

As I’m sure we are all aware, the week has been fraught with tension as riots have consumed the country. In this post we’d like to explore the role fire has had in the disturbances that began in London and the destructive effects fire brings.

In times like these deliberate fires are commonplace as rioters seek to cause as much chaos and destruction as possible. Fire is the ultimate in destructive forces and the sheer amount of wreckage and fear it can create is phenomenal. Already, the disturbances across the UK have produced iconic images of vans and buildings burning.

There are many ways an arsonist can start a fire – from striking a simple match to wielding dangerous petrol bombs – but, given enough time to take hold and build, the end result is almost always a roaring monstrosity of flames.

Fire cannot exist without three main elements – fuel, oxygen and heat. Without all three elements the fire will eventually cease. The way our fire service tries to extinguish fires is by using water to take the heat out of the flames. This method also dampens potential dry fuels, making them harder to burn. In some cases they may also use fire extinguishing foams – these work by stopping oxygen getting to the flames.

A typical house fire will reach temperatures of up to 1000°C. At this temperature plastics and many metals, including aluminium and brass, will melt and any dry materials will gradually be burned to feed the fire. However, this temperature can more than double if a back-draft occurs (a sudden rush of oxygen from a door or window that instantly fuels the flames).

The risk to people and animals during a fire is huge. Victims may get away relatively lightly with smoke inhalation but they can also face third- to first-degree burns and even death – though usually inhalation of carbon monoxide will prove fatal for a person before flames even reach them.

Other than the obvious risk to life, fire destroys buildings and possessions too and so poses a financial threat. In the majority of cases during the riots shops have been targeted. In a shop fire, fixtures, fittings and stock are all likely to perish. Insurance will probably cover these items but loss of earnings and the time it takes shop-owners to simply get back on their feet and recover are huge factors too. For some shop-owners there might be no way back to normal and they may decide to simply cut their losses, especially if the recession has already affected their business. In this situation a business is gone from the community and many people could find themselves out of work – an economic facet to the destruction fire brings.

Obviously, riot fires are very rare but the issues discussed here are present whether a fire has started accidentally or on purpose. Business owners can help to protect themselves by ensuring they adhere to fire safety regulations. One way is by installing fire alarm systems in their premises for early warning and keeping fire extinguishers on site.

Discount Fire Supplies sell a range of fire alarms, fire alarm accessories and much more. Browse our online shop or contact us for a quote today.

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