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Fire is a rapid oxidation process that creates light, heat, and smoke, and varies in intensity. It is commonly used to describe either a fuel in a state of combustion (e.g., a campfire, or a lit fireplace or stove) or a violent, destructive and uncontrolled burning (e.g., in buildings or a wildfire). The discovery of making fire is considered one of the most important evolutions of humankind, for it allowed higher hominids to ward off wild animals, cook food, and provide warmth as well as a source of light in darkness.
The ability to control fire is one of humankind’s first great achievements. Fire making to generate heat and light made it possible for people to migrate to colder climates and enabled people to cook food — a key step in the fight against disease. Archaeology indicates that ancestors of modern humans such as Homo erectus might have controlled fire as early as 790,000 years ago. The Cradle of Humankind site has evidence for controlled fire from 1 to 1.8 million years ago. By the Neolithic Revolution, during the introduction of grain based agriculture, people all over the world used fire as a tool in landscape management. These fires were typically controlled burns or “cool fires”, as opposed to uncontrolled “hot fires” that damage the soil. Hot fires destroy plants and animals, and endanger communities. This is especially a problem in the forests of today where traditional burning is prevented in order to encourage the growth of timber crops. Cool fires are generally conducted in the spring and fall. They clear undergrowth, burning up biomass that could trigger a hot fire should it get too dense. They provide a greater variety of environments, which encourages game and plant diversity. For humans, they make dense, impassable forests traversable.
A blacksmith’s fire, used primarily for forging iron.The first technical application of the fire may have been the extracting and treating of metals. There are numerous modern applications of fire. In its broadest sense, fire is used by nearly every human being on earth in a controlled setting every day. Users of internal combustion vehicles employ fire every time they drive. Thermal power stations provide electricity for a large percentage of humanity.
The use of fire in warfare has a long history. Hunter-gatherer groups around the world have been noted as using grass and forest fires to injure their enemies and destroy their ability to find food, so it can be assumed that fire has been used in warfare for as long as humans have had the knowledge to control it. Homer detailed the use of fire by Greek commandos who hid in a wooden horse to burn Troy during the Trojan war. Later the Byzantine fleet used Greek fire to attack ships and men. American and British warplanes destroyed the German city of Dresden on February 14, 1945 by creating a firestorm, in which a ring of fire surrounding the city was drawn inward by an updraft caused by a central cluster of fires. In the Vietnam War, the Americans dropped napalm from the air. More recently many villages were burned during the Rwandan Genocide. Aerial bombing of cities, including firebombing using incendiary bombs, was also used frequently during World War II. Molotov cocktails are cheap to construct and are commonly used as well.
1 Fire as a power source
2.2 Typical temperatures of fires and flames
3 Fire protection and prevention
4 See also
5.2 General references
6 External links
 Fire as a power source
A coal-fired power station in the People’s Republic of China.Fire has supplied much of the energy which has helped humans since ancient times. Wood was a prehistoric fuel. The use of fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas and coal in power plants supplies the vast majority of the world’s electricity today. The International Energy Agency states that nearly 80% of the world’s power comes from these sources. The fire in a power station is used to heat water, creating steam that drives turbines. The turbines then spin an electric generator to produce power.
The burning of wood is often the first association to the word “fire”. It is common in a developing country for wood to be the primary energy source as well. For instance, in Africa, 65% of the energy used comes from the burning of biomass. What is less obvious is that wood burning power stations are less environmentally destructive than the fired oil power station in two major respects. E.ON UK is soon to build a 44 megawatt wood fired power station in the United Kingdom for these reasons, as reported in the Guardian newspaper in October 2005: first, wood is a renewable resource, especially if trees are grown in a modern, sustainable way. Second, the carbon dioxide emissions are negligible because no more carbon dioxide can be produced by burning than would be produced by the natural rotting of wood. Thus, over a 100-year timescale, the effect is carbon-neutral.
Broadly speaking there are two types of fire, flaming and smoldering fires. The former is the rapid oxidation of a fuel (combustion) with associated flame, heat, and light. The flame itself is a thin region of gas where intense chemical reactions are taking place. The reacting gas in this area is often hot enough to glow visibly, although some flames can be nearly invisible.
The latter, a smoldering fire, is a flameless form of combustion, deriving its heat from oxidations occurring on the surface of a solid fuel. Two common examples are glowing coals and cigarettes. smolder propagates in a creeping fashion over solid fuels or inside porous fuels, and its temperature and heat released are low in comparison. The difference between flaming and smoldering combustion is that the former occurs on the surface of the solid rather than in the gas phase.
Fires start when both a flammable and/or a combustible material with an adequate supply of oxygen or another oxidizer is subjected to enough heat. The common fire-causing sources of heat include a spark, another fire (such as an explosion, a fire in the oven or fireplace, or a lit match, lighter or cigarette) and sources of intense thermal radiation (such as sunlight, a flue, an incandescent light bulb or a radiant heater). Mechanical and electrical machinery may cause fire if combustible materials used on or located near the equipment are exposed to intense heat from Joule heating, friction or exhaust gas. Fires can sustain themselves by the further release of heat energy in the process of combustion and may propagate, provided there is a continuous supply of oxygen and fuel. Fires may become uncontrolled and cause great damage to and destruction of human life, animals, plants and property. Fires can also occur through instantaneous combustion. This highly disputed phenomenon is currently under research. It is known that this does occur in a vacuum but is disputed as to whether or not it occurs in nature. This act of combustion leads to an exothermic reaction, which in turn is able to be used as a power source. By harnessing this heat from the combustion of coal, wood, petroleum, and oils; we are able to produce power for things such as automotives, power cells, and power plants.
Fire is extinguished when any of the elements of the so-called fire tetrahedron—heat, oxygen, fuel or the self-sustaining chemical reaction — are removed. The unburnable solid remains of a combustible material left after a fire are called ash,soot or cinder.
Fire can be considered to be a low temperature partial plasma. Plasma: an ionized gas, usually considered to be a distinct state of matter
For more detailed information on the color of flames, see flame.
A flame is an exothermic, self-sustaining, oxidizing chemical reaction producing energy and glowing hot flame, of which a very small portion is plasma. It consists of reacting gases and solids emitting visible and infrared light, the frequency spectrum of which is dependent on the chemical composition of the burning elements and intermediate reaction products.
In many cases such as burning organic matter like wood or incomplete combustion of gas, incandescent solid particles, soot produces the familiar red-orange ‘fire’ color light. This light has a continuous spectrum. Complete combustion of gas has a dim blue color due to the emission of single wavelength radiations from various electron transitions in the excited molecules formed in the flame. Usually oxygen is involved, but hydrogen burning in chlorine produces a flame as well, producing the toxic acid hydrogen chloride (HCl). Other possible combinations producing flames, amongst many more, are fluorine and hydrogen, or hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. Recent discoveries by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States also has found that gravity plays a role. Modifying the gravity causes different flame types.
The glow of a flame is somewhat complex. Black-body radiation is emitted from soot, gas, and fuel particles, though the soot particles are too small to behave like perfect blackbodies. There is also photon emission by de-excited atoms and molecules in the gases. Much of the radiation is emitted in the visible and infrared bands. The color depends on temperature for the black-body radiation, and chemical makeup for the emission spectra. The dominant color in a flame changes with temperature. The photo of the forest fire is an excellent example of this variation. Near the ground, where most burning is occurring, it is white, the hottest color possible for organic material in general, or yellow. Above the yellow region, the color changes to orange, which is somewhat cooler, then red, which is cooler still. Above the red region, combustion no longer occurs, and the uncombusted carbon particles are visible as black smoke. To eliminate a flame in combustion vehicles there are different steps that are taken. This depends largely on whether the fuel is oil, wood, or high energy (such as fuel for jet engines).
The common distribution of a flame under normal gravity conditions depends on convection, as soot tends to rise to the top of a general flame, such as in a candle in normal gravity conditions, making it yellow. In microgravity or zero gravity, such as an environment in outer space, convection no longer occurs, and the flame becomes spherical, with a tendency to become more blue and more efficient (although they will go out if not moved steadily as the CO2 from combustion does not disperse in microgravity, and tends to smother the flame). There are several possible explanations for this difference, of which the most likely is that the temperature is evenly distributed enough that soot is not formed and complete combustion occurs. Experiments by NASA in microgravity reveal that diffusion flames in microgravity allow more soot to be completely oxidized after they are produced than diffusion flames on Earth, because of a series of mechanisms that behaved differently in microgravity when compared to normal gravity conditions. These discoveries have potential applications in applied science and industry, especially concerning fuel efficiency.
 Typical temperatures of fires and flames
Oxyhydrogen Flame (2000 °C or above)(3645 °F)
Bunsen Burner Flame (min. to max. setting) (1300 to 1600 °C)(2372 to 2912 °F)
Blowtorch Flame (1800 °C)(2370 °F)
Candle Flame (760 °C)(1400 °F)
Temperature without drawing: Side of the lit portion; 400 °C (or 750 °F);Middle of the lit portion: 585 °C (or 1110 °F)
Temperature during drawing: Middle of the lit portion: 700 °C (or 1290 °F)
Always hotter in the middle.
 Fire protection and prevention
Flammable gas warningMain article: Fire protection
Codes and life safety codes and offer fire fighting services to extinguish or contain uncontrolled fires. Trained firefighters use fire trucks, water supply resources such as water mains and fire hydrants, and an array of other equipment to combat the spread of fires.
To ensure fire safety of buildings, all building products, materials and furnishings in the United States must be tested for fire resistance, and researched so it causes no harm. combustibility and flammability before they can be used in construction. The same applies to upholstery, carpeting and plastics used in vehicles and vessels. Buildings, especially schools and tall buildings, often conduct fire drills to inform and prepare citizens on how to react to a building fire.
Purposely starting destructive fires constitutes arson and is a criminal offense in most jurisdictions.
There are many different classification systems used for uncontrolled fires; in Europe and Australasia six groups are used:
Class A: Fires that involve flammable solids such as wood, cloth, rubber, paper, and some types of plastics.
Class B: Fires that involve flammable liquids or liquifiable solids such as petrol/gasoline, oil, paint, some waxes & plastics, but not cooking fats or oils.
Class C: Fires that involve flammable gases, such as natural gas, hydrogen, propane, butane.
Class D: Fires that involve combustible metals, such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
Class E: Fires that involve any of the materials found in Class A and B fires, but with the introduction of an electrical appliances, wiring, or other electrically energized objects in the vicinity of the fire, with a resultant electrical shock risk if a conductive agent is used to control the fire.
Class F: Fires involving cooking fats and oils. The high temperature of the oils when on fire far exceeds that of other flammable liquids making normal extinguishing agents ineffective.
In the United States fires are generally classified into five groups: A, B, C, D, and K
Class A: Fires that involve wood, cloth, rubber, paper, and some types of plastics.
Class B: Fires that involve gasoline, oil, paint, natural and propane gases, and flammable liquids, gases, and greases.
Class C: Fires that involve any of the materials found in Class A and B fires, but with the introduction of electrical appliances, wiring, or other electrically energized objects in the vicinity of the fire.
Class D: Fires that involve combustible metals, such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
Class K: Fires that involve cooking oils. Although, by definition, Class K is a subclass of Class B, the special characteristics of these types of fires are considered important enough to recognize.
 See also
Explosion, Rust, Digestion and composting are different kinds of combustion.
Fire protection engineering
Active fire protection
Passive fire protection
Fire lookout tower and/or Fire lookout
A list of articles relating to fire
A list of articles relating to specific fires
A list of articles relating to firefighting
A list of sources of light
ATF Fire Research Laboratory
Life safety code
^ “UNESCO – Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs”
^ “Share of Total Primary Energy Supply”, 2002; International Energy Agency
^ “Energy in Africa – Chapter 3”, United States Department of Energy information administration
^ “How Can Burning Wood Help Reduce Global Warming”, The Guardian
^ The Straight Dope: What exactly is fire?. Adams, C. (2002). Retrieved December 19, 2004.
^ Spiral flames in microgravity, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2000.
^ CFM-1 experiment results, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, April 2005.
^ LSP-1 experiment results, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, April 2005.
 General references
, (2005). Climate Change Begins at Home. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-4578-0
 External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
FireHow Fire Works at HowStuffWorks
What exactly is fire? (from The Straight Dope)
On Fire, an Adobe Flash-based science tutorial from the NOVA (TV series)
Early human fire mastery revealed BBC article on archaeological discoveries
Flames in microgravity
Spiral flames in microgravity
moebuildingcontrol.co.uk – UK Guidance on fire safety codes and fire engineering
Smokey Bear- Prevent Wildfires
Fun Uses with Fire with a Rubens’ Tube
is there fire in space? please update.
Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire”
Categories: Articles with unsourced statements since March 2007 | All articles with unsourced statements | Fire
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