Three factors dictate whether a fire will arise or spread: oxygen, temperature and inflammable material. It takes only seconds for a fire to spread upwards, minutes to spread to the sides and hours to spread downwards. If one or more of these factors changes or is removed, the fire will die out. See the fire triangle here (Soon available).
In practical terms, this means you should:
- Cut off the supply of oxygen (fires in small rooms): close doors and windows to make sure there is no supply of oxygen (via an open window, for instance).
- Reduce the temperature (for fires in electrical installations or inflammable liquids): use a carbon dioxide extinguisher to reduce the temperature to the point where the fire dies out.
- Remove the inflammable material (for a fire in a wastepaper basket, for instance): pick up the object if possible and throw it out of the window.
- When the alarm and evacuation have begun in the affected area, the neighbours can be alarmed and evacuated. First upstairs, then to the sides and finally downstairs.
Follow the alarm instructions and only attempt to put out the fire if it is safe and you feel are qualified to do so.
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