3 Methods Of Fire Extinguishing

What are the three methods of fire extinguishing? The three primary fire extinguishing methods are starvation (removing fuel), smothering (removing oxygen), and cooling (removing heat).

The sight of a flame can be comforting when confined to a fireplace, but the same cannot be said when it’s consuming our property or threatening human lives. Understanding how to extinguish fires is essential for everyone’s safety. So, what is this article all about? We aim to demystify fire and its extinguishing methods. Buckle up; this is going to be a hot topic!

Fire Triangle

To effectively extinguish a fire, we need first to comprehend what a fire is. Think of fire as a love triangle, aptly called the “Fire Triangle, ” involving fuel, oxygen, and heat. To extinguish a fire, we must effectively break this triangle. But how does the type of fire influence its extinguishing method?

Fire Triangle

The fire triangle illustrates that a fire needs three things to start and sustain itself: Heat, Fuel, and Oxygen. Removing any one of these elements can extinguish a fire.

In the context of fire safety, the Fire Triangle represents the three components a fire needs to exist: heat, oxygen, and fuel. A fire cannot start or continue if one of these components is missing. To extinguish a fire, one must remove or isolate at least one element of this triangle.

Classes of Fire

Fire classes categorize fires based on the type of fuel involved. They range from Class A (combustibles like wood and paper) to Class K (cooking oils and fats). Each Class requires a unique extinguishing method.

Different Fires Require Different Methods

Fires are categorized into different classes (A, B, C, D, and K or F) based on the type of material that’s burning. Each class of fire requires a specific type of extinguisher to put it out effectively. For example, a class A fire (involving ordinary combustibles like wood or paper) can be extinguished using water, while a class B fire (involving flammable liquids) requires a foam or dry chemical extinguisher.

Methods Of Fire Extinguishing

The primary methods of fire extinguishing are starvation, smothering, and cooling, each attacking a different component of the Fire Triangle.


Starvation involves removing or isolating the fuel. Without fuel, a fire will gradually die out. This might involve moving combustible materials away from the fire. An example would be creating firebreaks in a forest fire.


Smothering attacks the oxygen component of the Fire Triangle. Covering the fire with a non-combustible material can deprive it of oxygen, effectively putting it out. Ever seen a fire blanket in action? That’s smothering!


Cooling is one of the common methods of fire extinguishing. By reducing the temperature of the fuel to below its ignition point, the fire will go out. This is typically achieved by applying water, which absorbs heat as it becomes steam.

Detailed Fire Extinguishing Techniques

Let’s delve into the specifics, shall we? Here, we’ll explore various fire-extinguishing tools and how they employ the abovementioned methods.

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Use of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers come in different types, each designed for a specific fire class.

Extinguishers Have a Limited Range and Duration

Fire extinguishers are effective tools, but they have limitations. A typical fire extinguisher will only give you 10-20 seconds of discharge time and must be used from a safe distance.

Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers

Dry chemical extinguishers interrupt the chemical reaction at the heart of a fire. They’re effective against multiple fire classes and work by smothering the fire.

CO2 Fire Extinguishers

CO2 extinguishers replace the oxygen around the fire with carbon dioxide, smothering the fire and removing heat from the cold discharge.

CO2 Extinguishers Don’t Leave a Residue

Carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are commonly used on Class B and C fires. They work by displacing the oxygen the fire needs to burn. An added advantage is that they don’t leave a residue, which makes clean-up easier.

Water Fire Extinguishers

Water extinguishers are mainly used for Class A fires. They remove heat and cool the fire, causing it to extinguish.

Water Can Make Some Fires Worse

In fires involving electrical equipment or flammable metals, using water can actually increase the risk and intensity of the fire.

Fire Blankets

Fire blankets are used to smother small fires. They cut off the fire’s oxygen supply, causing it to extinguish.

Fire Blankets Can Smother Small Fires

Fire blankets, made of fire-resistant materials, can be used to extinguish small fires by depriving them of oxygen. They can also be used to wrap around a person whose clothing is on fire.

Fire Buckets

Filled with sand, fire buckets can be used to smother a fire, removing the oxygen element of the Fire Triangle.

Fire Hoses

Fire hoses deliver large volumes of water to a fire, drastically reducing the heat and potentially controlling the fire until professionals arrive.

Special Fire Extinguishing Methods

Now let’s step into the high-tech world of fire safety, exploring systems that automatically detect and suppress fires.

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Fire Suppressing Systems

These systems, often installed in commercial buildings, use a variety of agents to extinguish fires. Depending on the system’s design, they can employ water, dry chemicals, or inert gases.

Fire Retardants

Fire retardants slow the spread of fires by reducing the flammability of combustibles. They are often used in forest fire control.

Training Matters

Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher correctly is crucial. The PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) method is a widely taught technique to maximize the effectiveness of most fire extinguishers.

Methods Of Fire Extinguishing – Conclusion

Knowing the methods of fire extinguishing is not only for professionals; it is a vital life skill. From understanding the Fire Triangle to utilizing specific techniques, we all can contribute to creating safer environments. Please leave it to the experts when in doubt, and evacuate safely!


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