Fire is a chemical reaction brought about by the combining of fuel and oxygen and the application of sufficient heat to cause ignition. When these three elements are brought together fire will occur. This is known as the “fire triangle”.

Fire can cause injury and death in a number of ways. Direct contact with flames causes burns, but in many fire situations the more dangerous aspect is the risk of asphyxiation, which can be caused by the toxic fumes and smoke produced when fires burn and the consumption by fire of available oxygen in a room.

A key aspect of modern fire safety legislation is to prevent fires from occurring. The fire risk assessment and management of fire safety should be aiming to achieve this but to do so it is necessary to have an understanding of what fire is and how it occurs, as this topic describes.

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