Emergency preparedness towards sudden fire outbreak


It is true that with exception of lighting, fire outbreak is man-made because fire is caused by human (man, woman and children). This higher the standard of living to be greater the risk of fire outbreak is pass on to man due to the availability  of higher flammable materials in the market which smoothing the passage of our daily and are the measure causes of fire incident recorded mostly in our community (Olojoba 2009).

According to Erickson (2000), fire is an important element in life, it is one of the greatest discoveries of the early man, it has several advantage to man, but its disadvantage must be overlooked. It could be seen from the external examples that what takes several years to build up can be destroyed by fire within seconds, no wonder fire is said to be master stroke that can be destroy evidence.

Definition of fire

According to Olojoba and Unuraye (2005), fire is the rapid combination of heat, fuel and oxygen at appropriate concentration or it is the interaction of combustible substance in oxygen at appropriate temperature resulting in production of a flame.

Fire also refers to the natural phenomenon that occurs when ever a combustible fuel comes into contact with oxygen at a extremely high temperature.

According to Olojoba (2009), fire can be defined as the combustion process that involves the oxidation of fuel when ignited to produce heat and light. Forum (2003), fire is a chemical reaction which create a bursting of heat and light, this is called ignition point and what we see is flame, when heat changes the state on shape of an objects we called this combustion. Fire is oxidation processes that release energy in vary intensities in the form of light (with wave length also outside the visual spectrum) and heat often creates smoke. It is commonly used to describe either a fuel in a state of combustion or violet destructive and uncontrolled burning.

Fire is also define as the rapid burning of combustible material with the evolution of heat and usually accompanied by flame and also when something burns.

Types of fire

Broadly speaking there are two types of fire namely;

  • Flaming fire.
  • Smouldering

Both fires exhibit traits unique to themselves “flaming” high-proof alcoholic which is ignited prior to the consumption (Parden 2003).


Flaming fire involves the rapid oxidation of a fuel (combustion or release of energy) with associated flame heat and light. The flame itself occurs within a region of gas where intense exothermic reactions are place; an exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction whereby heat and energy are release as a substance         changes to more stable chemical form (in the case of fire usually generating carbon dioxide and water). As chemical reactions occur within fuel being burned; light is usually emitted as photons are release by oxidation of the fuel, the flame may or may not emit light in the visible spectrum. For example burning alcohol or burning hydrogen are usually invisible although the heat given off its tremendous.


A smouldering fire is a flameless form of combustion, deriving its heat from oxidation occurring on the surface of solid fuel. Two common examples are glowing coals and cigarettes. Smouldering propagates in creeping fashion over sold fuels or inside porous fuels and temperature and heat released are low in comparison to a flaming.

Chemical reaction

Fire starts when a flammable and or a combustible material with an adequate supply of oxygen or another oxidizer as subjected to enough heat. This is commonly called the fire triangle. No fire can exist without all three elements being in place.

Elements of fire

The fire triangle is a simple way of understanding the factors of fire; each side of the triangle represent one of the three ingredients needed to have a fire oxygen and fire fuel demonstrating the interdependence of these ingredients in creating and sustaining fire there is not enough heat generated to sustain the process when the fuel is exhausted, remove or isolated or when oxygen supply is limited then a side of the triangle is broken and the fire well die.

Fire triangle


A heat source is responsible for the initial ignition of fire and heat is also needed to maintain the fire and permit it to spread. Heat allows fire to spread surrounding air and preventing the fuel is its path enabling it to travel with grater case.


Fuel is any kind of combustible material and is characterised by its moisture content (how wet the fuel is) size and shape, quantity and the arrangement in which it is spread over the landscape. The moisture content determines how easily that fuel will burn (Freddie 2000).


Air contain about 21% of oxygen and most fire require at-least content to burn oxygen supports the chemical process that land fire; when fuel burns, it react with oxygen from the releasing heat and generating combustion products (i.e. gases process is known as oxidation).

 Classification of fire

Fire is classified into different groups:

Types of fire Properties
Class A Fire that involves inflammable solid such as wood, cloth, rubber, paper and some types of plastics
Class B Fire that involves flammable liquid or liquefiable solid such as petrol/gasoline, oil paint, some waxes and plastics but not cooking fats or oil.
Class C Fire that involves flammable gases such as natural gas, hydrogen propane, butane.
Class D Fire that involves combustible metals such as sodium, magnesium and potassium

Source: (Robert, 2000).

Practical uses of fire:

Fire has been used for light, heat, sticks farming, cremation, welding (for cooking, survival and comfort) and protection for thousands of years.

Classification of fire fighting material/equipment

Materials used in fire fighting include the following:

Fire helmet, Tog boots, Ankle boots, Coverall, Hand gloves and Fire suit (fire resistance jacket).

Fire equipment-includes the following:

Potable fire pumps, Fire hoses, Fire extinguishers, Fire engine, Pump, Fire pump, Personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to withstand water and high temperature such as Bunker gear etc.

Ladder trucks source (Bernard, 2007).

Causes of fire outbreak                                                              

Normally there are various causes of fire outbreak, below are some of them:

  • Heating sources: are often causes of fire, space heaters, electric heaters and fireplaces should be used with caution. Heating is the third reading causes of residential fire deaths.
  • Cooking accidents: are major causes of home fires and cause us a lot of concern. Cooking is the leading causes of apartment fires and the second most frequency cause of single family residential fire. These fires often result from unattended cooking and human error, rather than from mechanical failure of stoves or oven (Ramona, 2009).
  • Arson and deliberate fire setting: The setting of deliberate fire by vandals, thieves or disgruntled person is unfortunately; on the increase over 50% of major fires in the UK are caused by Arson.
  • Combustible materials: Such as packing materials glues, solvents, flammable, liquid or gases stored in the workplaces. It is recommended that the amount brought into the premises should be kept to a minimum and sufficient for the day’s work only.
  • Hazardous materials such as paints, adhesive, chemicals, solvent, gas cylinders etc.
  • Electrical wire can cause a fire if it is not large enough to carry the load being supplied. Neglect and misuse of electrical wiring fittings and equipment can easily cause fire. In the workplace, overheating of electrical appliances, poor wiring connection, use of unauthorized appliances, multi-point adaptors and problems with the extension load are all hazards with frequently result in fires starting.
  • Rubbish and waste materials that are left to accumulate can easily contribute to the spread of fire.

Effect/health hazards of fire outbreak on humans and its environment

Studies have shown that there are various effects of fire outbreak on the following:

Plants, Animals, Human and Environment

Effects on plants

The effect of fire outbreak on plants and crops is so great it has led to famine or food shortages and low production of food in some place after the other. Fire outbreak on crops have also affected the nutritive value of crops, as such when consumed there is little or no nutritive value from them. The effect of fire on plants or natural vegetation and composition and can result in change in resources availability for fauna. This can lead to changes in food quality and quantity (Australian Government Department of Health, 2006).

Effects on animals

According to Bouchad (2009), fire has greatly affected animals in various ways; it has affected their feeding habitat as a result of bush burning. Fire has direct and indirect effect on animals. Fire affects animals directly on that it has increase mortality rate especially for flightless invertebrates and also some insects’ invulnerable stage of development (e.g.) larval stage.

He also stressed that fire has affected animals indirectly that it affects the physical environment where these animals uses as hide out to predators as a result of fire outbreak on vegetation. They have become target to predators because they are vulnerable to attack because of loss of shelter.

Effect of fire on humans

The effects of fire outbreak on humans cannot be overlooked; fire has left many persons disabled, leaving many injured. Following the record of Jesse fire disaster, it can be seen that fire has lead to increase in death rate in our society.

According to Olojoba (2009), records show that in 1984 in Bhopal (India) more than 2,500 persons died as a result of storage tank containing Mic exploded due to exothermic reaction with water that leaked into tank in an industry.

Fire outbreak in industries has affected both the employee and the employers, it has resulted to the to the loss of facilities, low production etc. in addition to the personal factors that may predispose an individual to coronary artery diseases, and other cardiovascular diseases, occupational exposures can significantly increase an individual’s risk. For instance, carbon monoxide, present in nearly all fire environments and hydrogen cyanide formed during the combustion of paper, cotton, plastics and other substances containing carbon and nitrogen, interfere with transport of oxygen in the body. Hypoxia can then lead to heart injure. In addition, chronic exposure to particulate matter in smoke is associated with atherosclerosis. Noise exposure may contribute to hypertension and possibly ischemic heart disease. Other factors associated with fire fighting include stress, heat stress and heavy physical exertion; also increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

Another effect of fire on human is extreme burn, which causes severe pain, 3rd degree burn kills the dermis and epidermis as well as the nerve receptors, living scares behind.

Effect on the environment

Fire outbreak as destructive as it seems, has not only affected plants, animals, humans but also the environment. Fire outbreak has lead to environmental degradation leading to air pollution as a result of chemicals (carbon monoxide) that are released into the atmosphere; fire outbreak has also given room for contamination of water bodies.

Emergency preparedness of fire

The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire outbreak suddenly are:-

  • Identify and remove hazard from your home or surrounding. 60% of home fire outbreak result to death of both adult and children, also damage of essential documents and properties. Make your home fire safe.
  • Install smoke detector: install a battery-powered smoke detector outside each sleeping area, in the kitchen area, and also on each additional level of your home.
  • Use the test button to check each smoke detector once a month. When necessary, replace battery immediately at least once a year.
  • Having a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, get training form the fire department on how too use it. Also include in the kit written instruction on how to turn off utilities at your home or in the place of work. Look at the fire extinguisher to ensure it is properly changed. Use the gauge or test button to check proper pressure.
  • Conduct periodic fire drills, so that everyone should remember what to do when there is a fire outbreak.
  • A fire escape plan: let all the members of your family know how to escape calmly. Please be serious about the responsibility for planning and practicing what to do in case of fire outbreak.


Assessment of emergency preparedness towards sudden outbreak of fire, fire has cause a lot of damage to man and its environment and in the course of this research work, we were able to research and found reasons or causes of fire or sudden outbreak of fire, so also we were able to found some solution to this problem (i.e.) emergency preparedness for fire, identify and remove fire hazard from your place of work or living, installation of smoke detector at home or in the working place, having a working fire extinguisher and also always practice your escape plan with your family in case if such case arise. With these, we were able to conclude that even if there is sudden outbreak of fire; with this research work, you can be able to solve some sudden outbreak of fire with all your emergency preparedness kit.


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Bernard, K. (2007). Fire Material Equipment, London: Jones and Bartlette Publishers.

Bouchad, F. S. (2009). Flame Structure and Process. New York: Oxford University Press.

Erickson, C. (2000). The Straight Dope: What Exactly is Fire? London: London

Freddie, F. S. (2000). Elements of Fire Fuel: The Final Reports of Major Finding Menlo Park: CA Stanford University.

Forum (2003). Goals of Fire Fighting/Precautionary Measures. A Report on Fire Fighting.

Olojoba, A. O. (2009). Millennium Technology in Waste Management and Environmental Pollution Mitigation. Ughelli: Ama Ohoror.

Olojoba, A. O. (2009), Occupational safety service and public health. Ughelli, Ama Ohoror.

Ururaye L. O. & Olojoba, O. A. (2005). Fundamental of Industrial and Environmental Health Management. Ughelli, Ama Ohoror.

Ramona, M. G. (2009), Classification of fire. New York: Oxford University Press         .

Newton, O. (2015). A Manual on Public Utilities and Environmental Health Issues for HND1.

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