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What is the Fire Triangle?

Knowledge is a key aspect of fire prevention. Understanding how fire works, even on a basic level, will inform your understanding of fire fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers, suppression systems and more.

The fire triangle is a fundamental fire principle; once you’re familiar with it and how it works, you’ll be better prepared to implement an effective fire safety plan for your business.

The fire triangle

The simplest way to understand how a fire operates is demonstrated by the fire triangle. The triangle is made up of these three elements:

  • Heat
  • Fuel
  • Oxygen

Placing the elements in a triangle shows how dependent each one is on the other; successfully removing any of them will put a stop to the fire.


There needs to be enough heat for a material to ignite. Once a material reaches a certain temperature, it can catch fire and burn. Maintaining a fire means keeping this temperature at or above ignition point. Heat can also influence the spread of fire by raising the temperature of nearby air and fuels.


In the fire triangle, the fuel refers to the material that is being ignited. Any combustible material can be the fuel; from something as simple as a piece of paper or wood, to flammable gases, spilled oil, metal shavings and more. Any commercial or industrial site will contain various flammable materials, and keeping these potential fuels safe from ignition is an essential part of fire prevention.


The heated fuel needs to react with oxygen in order to burn. Typically, the oxygen comes from surrounding air, so smothering a fire and cutting off the fuel from any oxygen is an effective way to extinguish a solid fuel fire.

The fire triangle and extinguishers

The fire triangle demonstrates the basic composition of a fire, and the fire fighting equipment we use today is based on removing one or more parts of the triangle. Not every fire can be tackled in the same manner; as we’ve looked at before, different extinguishers are used to fight different fires. For example, water based extinguishers work by removing heat from a fire. But if you were to use water to fight a flammable liquid fire, the water will spread the flammable liquid instead of neutralising it, causing the fire to grow.

For this reason it’s vital that you choose the right equipment for your building. Commercial offices and retail spaces often require a range of fire extinguishers due to the presence of different combustible materials.

The basic understanding of the fire triangle underpins your ability to fight a fire. As long as you can remove one of the core components of a fire, you’ll be able to mitigate the damage and stem the spread of the blaze.

Target Fire Protection provides bespoke fire fighting advice and equipment for commercial and industrial properties throughout Manchester, Rochdale, Bury and Oldham. With a full range of fire extinguishers, as well as fire safety and training courses and fire assessments delivered by experienced professionals, we can help you design and implement a suitable fire safety strategy throughout your premises. To find out more about our services, simply contact our friendly team today.

For free, impartial advice, call our expert team: 0800 030 6079

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We would like to reassure our customers that all of our services are operating as normal and that we are putting in place strict precautionary measures to create a social spacing compliant service. As our work is necessitated by law, if things do change we will make arrangements for emergency engineers to still be available.

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