Jane Embury on the stupidity of fire
Most fires start from something minor. That could be a discarded cigarette, or an electrical short-circuit.
Sometimes, however, they start because of human stupidity.
Like the US man who set up a deep fryer in his basement, but didn’t check on it. It bubbled over, and caused a fire that cost over $1 million.
Or the woman in South Wales who set her house on fire in 2014 after trying to kill a spider by spraying it with a lit aerosol can.
Generally, however – arson aside – most fires start from only the smallest of accidental causes. If contained at source, they pose little risk.
Modern fire regulations are all about active fire suppression systems such as sprinklers or passive systems such as fire protective glazing.
A key factor is compartmentation – trapping the fire in a contained space, and therefore preventing it spreading. And it’s not just fire, as the majority of casualties can be through inhaling smoke or toxic gases.
Containment also allows fire fighters to easily reach the seat of the fire and limits damage to a specific area. Most importantly, it gives everyone in that building the time to safely escape.
We always emphasise that in a fire situation the performance of any glazing system relies on compatibility between the glass and its framing system. If one fails, both fail – so Insist on proven, tested compatibility.
In a fire, the sudden venting of oxygen caused by a glazing system failure can have a significant and catastrophic effect on rapid fire growth. At worst, leading to back-draft or flashover, two of the most feared scenarios faced by fire fighters.
But please don’t try to kill spiders with a lit aerosol!