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Sources of ignition

What is fire?

Fire is a chemical reaction known as combustion, it occurs when fuel and oxygen are in the presence of sufficient heat to cause ignition. There are three elements related to the fire triangle, namely; heat, fuel and oxygen.

The burning rate of fuel depends on its chemical composition and physical form, it is the vapour omitted from the fuel which takes part in the combustion process and a fuel will burn if it is mixed with the correct proportion of oxygen and is at a sufficiently high temperature.

The fuel must reach a sufficient temperature before ignition can take place (critical temperatures) heat can be applied from various sources (sources of ignition) and fires spread by the transfer of heat and consequent ignition of other combustible materials.

(mechanisms of heat transfer

Critical Temperatures

Flashpoint: Is the lowest temperature of which a particular fuel will ignite momentarily on application of a source of ignition.

Firepoint: Is the lowest temperature at which a particular fuel will ignite and remain alight on application of a source of ignition.

Auto Ignition: Is the lowest temperature at which a particular fuel will ignite and remain alight without the application of a source of ignition.

Mechanisms of heat transfer

Radiation: The transfer of heat through "heat rays" from a source to material directly in its path.

Convection: The transfer of heat from a source through the heating up and movement of surrounding gases and liquids.
Conduction: The transfer of heat from a source through a conducting solid, normally metals.