Understanding How House Fires Grow

Here are some very frightening yet little known facts about fire. Fire may double in size every 30 seconds, meaning that a fire can spread 1100% in the first four minutes. Heat rises at the amazing rate of 28 meters per second; that's almost 100 km/h. And a fire spreads by transferring heat energy in three quite dangerous ways: radiation, convection, and conduction, in addition to direct burning.

Radiation occurs from the heat that fires generate. Convection occurs from the transmission of heat within a liquid or gas due to the difference of their density. Think of gas or propane fumes and how quickly they ignite. Conduction is the process by which heat is directly transmitted through a substance when there is a difference of temperature between adjoining regions, without movement of the material. Furnishings for example. So, understand that fires are not things, but events able to spring to life with great speed from heat, fuel and the oxidizing agent, usually oxygen. In short, fires are highly dangerous, and appreciating this fact can save lives.

Faster Burning

Research has shown that fires today spread far more quickly than in bygone years. Thirty years ago, you had about 17 minutes to escape a house fire. Today, you have as little as 3-4 minutes because newer homes and the furniture within them burn a lot faster. Natural materials like wood and wool or cotton were once the norm in home and office furnishings. Today, plastics and other synthetic materials are in widespread use. Fires today can jump across a sofa, leap to an end table, spread to a lamp or coffee table and generate flames going to the ceiling within 3 minutes. Why? Synthetics burn faster and hotter than natural materials.

So should your smoke alarm sound some evening, please don’t run for your wedding picture, favourite shoes or clothing. Get people and pets out as quickly as you can and call 911. Fast-spreading fires are harder to stop than you think.

At Paul Davis, we understand both the science and the emotional toll of fire. Our specialized training, cleaning methods and equipment combined with our experience means quicker cleanup, lower restoration costs, and a faster return to normal for you and your family.