The word ‘fire’ is of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vuur and German Feuer . Here are 15 other facts you may not have known about fire.
1. Fire is a chemical reaction that releases light and heat.
2. Fires require fuel, oxygen and heat to burn.
3. Fire is an event or occurrence, not a thing. It’s a process in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke.
4. Assuming stable fuel, heat, and oxygen levels, a typical house fire will double in size every minute.
5. Earth is the only known planet where fire can burn. Everywhere else there’s not enough oxygen.
6. Oxygen supply influences the color of the flame. A low-oxygen fire contains lots of uncombusted fuel particles and will give off a yellow glow. A high-oxygen fire burns blue.
7. Fires can be stopped in 3 different ways:
Removing the fuel source by exhausting it or taking it away.
Removing the oxygen by smothering the fire.
Removing the heat by absorbing it with water.
8. Spontaneous combustion is real. Some fuel sources can generate their own heat—by rotting, for instance. Haystacks, compost heaps, and even piles of old newspapers and magazines can also burst into flame.
9. During wildfires, trees can explode if water deep inside the tree quickly turns to steam.
10. No one knows who invented the fire hydrant, because its patent was destroyed in a fire in 1836.
11. Cotton will catch on fire if super glue is applied to it.
12. You can start a fire using ice.
13. Forest fires move faster uphill than downhill. The steeper the slope, the faster the fire travels.
14. Once a forest fire begins, it can spread at a rate of up to 25 kilometres per hour, consuming everything in its path.
15. Back in the day when horses pulled fire engines, fire stations were equipped with spiral staircases so the horses would not try to climb the stairs into the living quarters. You may still find some stations with these stairs.
Image by Cathy Withers-Clarke