Describe practices that prevent fires from starting and spreading

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

Fire can cause damage, injury and death and most fires are preventable. Therefore, it is important that all employees understand about fire prevention and how fires can spread.

For a fire to start, three things are needed:

  • Oxygen
  • Fuel e.g. combustible materials like paper, wood etc.
  • Heat

This is represented by the Fire Triangle below.

Fire triangle. Each side of the triangle is labelled as: heat, fuel, oxygen and there is a flame in the middle

When these three things combine, a chemical reaction takes place which creates fire.

Removing any one of the three ‘sides’ of the fire triangle will prevent a fire from starting or spreading.

Practical advice for fire prevention include:

  • keeping flammable substances (fuel) and ignition sources (heat) apart
  • keeping the workplace clean and tidy – rubbish left lying around is a source of fuel for a fire
  • avoid using naked flames unless absolutely necessary
  • do not smoke in the workplace
  • do not leave food cooking unattended
  • avoid using portable heaters where possible

Practical advice for preventing fires from spreading include:

  • using fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers or fire blankets
  • closing doors
  • having a clean and tidy workplace
  • call emergency services as soon as possible