The control of fire by early humans was a turning point in the cultural aspect of human evolution. Fire provided a source of warmth, protection, and a method for cooking food. These cultural advancements allowed for human geographic dispersal, cultural innovations, and changes to diet and behaviour. Additionally, creating fire allowed the expansion of human activity to proceed into the dark and colder hours of the morning.
As per Wikipedia, claims for the earliest definitive evidence of control of fire by a member of Homo range from 1.7 to 0.2 million years ago (Mya). Evidence for the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus, beginning some 600,000 years ago, has wide scholarly support. Flint blades burned in fires roughly 300,000 years ago were found near fossils of early but not entirely modern Homo sapiens in Morocco.Evidence of widespread control of fire by anatomically modern humans dates to approximately 125,000 years ago.
Unfortunately fire sometimes get's out of control and we need to respond quickly to minimize damage and possible injuries!
When fires are extinguished in the early stages:
Loss of life is minimal. 93 percent of all fire-related deaths occur once the fire has progressed beyond the early stages.
Direct property damage is minimal. 95 percent of all direct property damage occur once the fire has progressed beyond the early stages.
Source: 1991-1995 NFIRS study
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that every building or structure be designed, constructed, and maintained to protect occupants who are not intimate with the initial fire development for the time needed to evacuate, relocate, or defend in place.
According to the NFPA, a successful balanced fire protection plan should be designed so that reliance for safety to life does not depend solely on any single safeguard. Additional safeguards shall be provided for life safety in case any single safeguard is ineffective due to inappropriate human actions or system failure.
Similar to NFPA, the International Building Code and International Fire code provide a system of protection schemes so as not to rely on a single safeguard to protect building occupants.
Different Fire Extinguishers
Water and Foam
Water and Foam fire extinguishers extinguish the fire by taking away the heat element of the fire triangle. Foam agents also separate the oxygen element from the other elements.
Water extinguishers are for Class A fires only - they should not be used on Class B or C fires. The discharge stream could spread the flammable liquid in a Class B fire or could create a shock hazard on a Class C fire.
Carbon Dioxide extinguishers
Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers extinguish fire by taking away the oxygen element of the fire triangle and also be removing the heat with a very cold discharge. Carbon dioxide can be used on Class B & C fires. They are usually ineffective on Class A fires.
Dry Chemical extinguishers
Dry Chemical fire extinguishers extinguish the fire primarily by interrupting the chemical reaction of the fire triangle. Today's most widely used type of fire extinguisher is the multipurpose dry chemical that is effective on Class A, B, and C fires. This agent also works by creating a barrier between the oxygen element and the fuel element on Class A fires.
Ordinary dry chemical is for Class B & C fires only. It is important to use the correct extinguisher for the type of fuel! Using the incorrect agent can allow the fire to re-ignite after apparently being extinguished successfully.
Wet Chemical extinguishers
Wet Chemical is a new agent that extinguishes the fire by removing the heat of the fire triangle and prevents re-ignition by creating a barrier between the oxygen and fuel elements. Wet chemical of Class K extinguishers were developed for modern, high efficiency deep fat fryers in commercial cooking operations. Some may also be used on Class A fires in commercial kitchens.
Clean Agent extinguishers
Halogenated or Clean Agent extinguishers include the halon agents as well as the newer and less ozone depleting halocarbon agents. They extinguish the fire by interrupting the chemical reaction of the fire triangle. Clean agent extinguishers are primarily for Class B & C fires. Some larger clean agent extinguishers can be used on Class A, B, and C fires.
Dry Powder extinguishers
Dry Powder extinguishers are similar to dry chemical except that they extinguish the fire by separating the fuel from the oxygen element or by removing the heat element of the fire triangle. However, dry powder extinguishers are for Class D or combustible metal fires, only. They are ineffective on all other classes of fires.
Water Mist extinguishers
Water Mist extinguishers are a recent development that extinguish the fire by taking away the heat element of the fire triangle. They are an alternative to the clean agent extinguishers where contamination is a concern. Water mist extinguishers are primarily for Class A fires, although they are safe for use on Class C fires as well.