It takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to grow into a full-blown fire. In two minutes, the fire could become life-threatening. And after just five minutes, the entire house could be engulfed in flames. Learn more about how fire spreads throughout a building and tips to slow it down.
How Does Fire Spread?
Once a building fire ignites, it continues to burn until it uses up all the available fuel – in other words, until the building is destroyed. By learning how fire spreads, you can take the necessary steps to slow it down and extinguish it before it causes irreparable damage. Here are the things that feed a fire:
- Combustibles and chemicals: Common combustibles found in homes include furniture, carpet, bedding and paper products. Fires readily consume these items unless they’re treated with fire retardants. The presence of chemicals – such as cleaning products, paint and pesticides – tends to create hotter, more aggressive fires.
- Open space: Homes with an open floor plan are more susceptible to widespread fire damage because there are no walls or doors to contain the flames.
- Construction materials: The composition of a building greatly impacts how quickly a fire can spread. For instance, fire consumes wood frames more speedily than concrete and steel.
- Ventilation system: Homes with forced-air heating and cooling have a network of ducts connecting each room. As a fire burns, heat and smoke can travel between floors via the ductwork.
- Water splatter: While water may be the first extinguishing agent that comes to mind, it’s not always appropriate. Grease fires, for example, splatter and spread further if you attempt to splash the flames with water.
How to Slow the Spread of Fire
If you hope to put out a fire quickly, the first step is to prevent it from growing and spreading in the first place. Here’s how:
- Build with fire-resistant materials: When constructing a new home, choose to build with concrete, steel, brick and other fire-resistant materials instead of wood. Also, purchase textiles that are treated with fire retardants.
- Install fire doors: Adding steel doors to the interior of a building can restrict fire and smoke travel. Fire doors come with ratings ranging from 20 minutes to an hour.
- Compartmentalize the building during a fire: When evacuating your home, close the doors behind you. This has a dramatic impact on how quickly the flames spread, especially if you have fire doors.
- Keep everyone informed: The effectiveness of fire doors and compartmentalization depends on people taking the correct actions during a fire. Make sure everyone in your home knows to close doors when evacuating and never to prop open a fire door.
By slowing the spread of a house fire, you can keep it more contained, therefore decreasing the extent of the property damage. If your home recently experienced a fire, please contact DKI Services immediately to request fire damage restoration.