Combustion triangle

Find out more about the elements of the combustion triangle.


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4 March 2024 Fire Safety

Fire is a fascinating but also dangerous force that we can encounter in everyday life. It is crucial to understand the basics of the combustion triangle in order to handle fire correctly.

The combustion triangle at a glance

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The combustion triangle (also known as the fire triangle) is a concept that identifies the three essential elements for fire:

  • Combustible material,
  • oxygen
  • and an ignition source/heat.

All three elements must be present in the correct proportions for a fire to start. The mixing ratio of the three elements is therefore often referred to as the fourth basis that leads to the chemical chain reaction and thus to fire.

The elements of the combustion triangle in detail

Combustible material:

The first element of the combustion triangle is the combustible material. This can be anything that is combustible, from wood and paper to flammable liquids. The nature and quantity of the combustible material influence the intensity and duration of the fire.

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No fire can burn without oxygen. Oxygen is the second element of the fire triangle. Oxygen is present in the air we breathe and promotes combustion. In fire situations, it is possible to reduce the supply of oxygen in order to control the fire. This can be achieved by smothering the fire with extinguishing foam, for example.

Ignition source or heat:

The ignition source or heat is the third element of the fire triangle. It initiates the combustion process. This can include an open flame, sparks or hot surfaces. It is important to handle and control ignition sources safely to prevent accidental fires.

Knowledge of the fire triangle makes it possible to better understand fire situations and react appropriately. It therefore serves as a guide to safe action and helps to reduce the risk of fires and take the correct extinguishing measures in the event of a fire.

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