Safety: The fire triangle

Fire can be compared to a triangle. Three sides are necessary to make a triangle and three ingredients are necessary to cause a fire. These are heat, air, and fuel. If any one of these three sides is missing, there can be no fire.


Heat, the first side of the fire triangle, can come from many sources. It can be generated by sparks from welding operations, discarded cigarette butts, electrical shorts, frayed wiring, friction from power tools, and hot exhaust pipes.


Fuel, the second side of the fire triangle, may be liquid, such as gasoline or solvents; a solid, such as paper or wood scraps; or a gas, such as propane.


Air, the third side of the fire triangle, contains oxygen which is necessary to sustain a fire. Heat, fuel, and air must be in the proper proportion for fire to occur.

Eliminating the triangle

Remember that if you remove any one of the three ingredients, you will prevent or extinguish the fire.

We can help prevent fires by doing the following:

  • Maintaining a neat and clean work area, thus preventing an accumulation of rubbish.
  • Putting oily or paint-soaked rags in covered metal containers.
  • Keeping all combustible materials away from furnaces or other sources of ignition.
  • Reporting any fire hazards we cannot eliminate.

Fire triangle graphic

When you know the angles

When you know the angles, it’s easier to prevent and control fires. Remember the fire triangle: heat, air, and fuel. When you find these three ingredients present, take heed. A fire could be in the making.